CAIRO – Egypt’s National Elections Authority announced on Tuesday that 88.8 percent of voters backed a series of constitutional amendments which enable the incumbent president, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, to remain in office until 2030.
Voters in Egypt cast their ballots in a referendum held between April 20-22, while the three-day process had kicked off for Egyptians living abroad a day earlier.
More than 27 million people voted both in Egypt and abroad, representing 44.3 percent of the more than 61 million eligible voters, with 96.9 percent of ballots being valid, NEA chief Lashin Ibrahim said Tuesday at a Cairo press conference.
Ibrahim added that the constitutional amendments were to enter into force as of the moment of his announcement.
The modification of Article 140 extends Al-Sisi’s current second term from four to six years – ending in 2024 – and allows him to seek another six-year term thereafter, potentially enabling him to stay in power until 2030, although he had been scheduled to step down in 2022 before this change.
Also approved was an amendment to Article 185 so that the head of state can appoint the heads of judicial institutions from among the country’s seven oldest vice presidents for a term of four years, or until they choose to retire.
In addition, the amendments included establishing that at least 25 percent of the seats in Parliament will be held by women.
The constitutional reform moved forward with the support of the overwhelming majority of lawmakers, a year after Al-Sisi was re-elected by a landslide in an election that pitted him against a little-known politician who had previously declared his support for the president.
Only the opposition deputies, about 10 percent of the members of the chamber, have opposed the reform, which they believe goes against the achievements of the revolution that ended the regime of Hosni Mubarak in 2011 and led to the Constitution of 2014.
Several non-governmental organizations and opposition members have said that reforming the presidential term goes against the spirit of that Constitution limiting the time in office of the country’s president.
The campaign in favor of the amendments had kicked off some time ago with great fanfare on Cairo’s streets, including displaying huge banners on the iconic Tahrir central square, the cradle of the 2011 and 2013 uprisings.