In the referendum held in Egypt yesterday on a constitutional change that gives President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi more power, 88.83 percent of voters voted “yes”. The National Election Authority has announced this.
There were 11.17 percent votes against, the turnout was 44.33 percent.
With the result, both al-Sisi and the army gain more power and can remain president for longer. The Egyptian parliament decided the constitutional changes with a two-thirds majority only last week. The second term of office of the 64-year-old state leader is supposed to end in 2022, but the constitutional changes extend his current term of office for another two years and offer him the possibility of his re-election for another six years. Al-Sisi could, therefore, remain in power until 2030.
Human rights activists warned earlier that the changes will further aggravate the human rights situation in the country. Critics were already put under pressure beforehand and it was feared that the vote would not go free.
According to the NGO Human Rights Watch, the constitutional changes undermine the declining independence of the judiciary and give the military more power to interfere in political life.
In 2013, under the leadership of the then Chief of Staff al-Sisi, the Egyptian army deposed the freely elected Islamist President Mohamed Morsi after mass demonstrations. Subsequently, al-Sisi won two controlled presidential elections by a large majority, the last in the spring of 2018.