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Egyptians vote in constitution reform referendum

Saturday - April 20, 2019 3:04 pm , Category : WORLD
Cairo, April 20 (IANS) Egyptians on Saturday voted in a three-day referendum on constitutional reforms that could allow incumbent President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to rule until 2030 and give the head of state and the army more power.
 
Voting stations opened at 7 a.m. and are due to close 12 hours later as over 61 million people will cast their ballots, reports Efe news.
 
Early in the morning, al-Sisi voted in Heliopolis, an eastern suburb of the capital, Cairo.
 
In Cairo's district of Zamalek, dozens of people lined up in front of a ballot centre before it had opened to take part in the process that had kicked off for Egyptians living abroad a day earlier.
 
Earlier this week, Egypt's parliament approved the constitutional amendment.
 
The modification of Article 140 extends the duration of the presidential term from four to six years, an alteration that is supposed to enter into force the day following the end of the term of his predecessor - which means al-Sisi will remain in office till 2024 - and allows him to seek a third term.
 
The chamber also approved an amendment to Article 185 so that the head of state can appoint the heads of judicial institutions from among the seven oldest vice-presidents for a term of four years, or until retirement.
 
The constitutional reform that came five years after being approved is moving forward with the support of the overwhelming majority in Parliament.
 
Only the opposition deputies, about 10 per cent 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.
 
A group of 120 pro-government lawmakers from the 596-seat parliament signed a request on February 3 to push for the constitutional reforms.
 
The request also included a proposal to restore the bicameral system that included the Consultative Council (best known as the Shura Council), which served as the upper house of the Egyptian parliament until it was dissolved by the same 2014 Constitution.
 
The campaign in favour of the amendments had kicked off with large banners on Cairo's streets - including the central iconic square of Tahrir, even before they were passed by parliament.
 

--IANS ksk/bg