Opponents of Egypt's constitutional reforms call for 'no' vote

CAIRO (Reuters) - Opponents of constitutional amendments that could see Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi stay in power until 2030 urged people to vote 'no' on Monday, the third and final day of a referendum on the proposal. The amendments would also bolster the role of the military and expand the president's power over judicial appointments.

Reuters April 23, 2019 03:06:59 IST
Opponents of Egypt's constitutional reforms call for 'no' vote

Opponents of Egypts constitutional reforms call for no vote

CAIRO (Reuters) - Opponents of constitutional amendments that could see Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi stay in power until 2030 urged people to vote "no" on Monday, the third and final day of a referendum on the proposal.

The amendments would also bolster the role of the military and expand the president's power over judicial appointments. The constitutional changes were approved by parliament last week.

While the amendments are expected to be passed in the referendum, observers say the turnout will be a test of Sisi's popularity, which has been dented by austerity measures since 2016. He was re-elected last year with 97 percent of votes cast.

Sisi's supporters say he has stabilised Egypt and needs more time to reform and develop the economy. Critics fear changing the constitution will shrink any remaining space for political competition and debate, paving the way for a long period of one-man rule.

Ahmed al-Tantawi, one of a small number of opposition members of parliament, said the referendum was being held against a backdrop of intimidation and "vote buying".

The electoral commission said on Monday afternoon it had not received any formal complaints so far about any irregularities.

"We can say that the first two days of voting were held under the slogan, the 'ticket and the cardboard box'," Tantawi said, referring to reports that grocery boxes were being handed out to people in exchange for casting a vote.

"But there is a chance on the third day of voting for Egyptians, particularly the youth, to return things to their natural course," he said.

Activists have posted photos on social media that appeared to show white cardboard boxes packed with groceries being handed out to people after they voted.

A Reuters reporter saw some voters receiving vouchers for groceries after leaving a central Cairo polling station, which they then exchanged for packages of cooking oil, pasta, sugar and tea at a nearby charity.

It was not immediately possible to verify who was distributing the food.

When asked about the boxes, Mahmoud el-Sherif, spokesman for Egypt's election commission, said it was monitoring for any violations. But he added: "The commission has received no notifications or complaints of this kind so far."

The commission says it has strict measures to ensure a fair and free vote, posting judges at each polling station and using special ink to prevent multiple voting.

Sisi's critics say no real debate over the amendments has been possible because of a crackdown on opposition that activists judge the harshest for decades.

The speaker of Egypt's parliament said representatives of civil society and the opposition were given a chance to air their views freely during parliamentary consultation sessions.

The Egyptian Organisation for Human Rights issued an appeal on Monday over the case of an activist, Ahmed Badawi, who it said had been arrested after he was pictured holding a handwritten sign saying "No to the constitutional amendments".

Egyptian officials could not immediately be reached for a comment.

If approved, the amendments would extend Sisi's current term to six years from four and allow him to run again for a third six-year term in 2024.

They would also grant the president control over appointinghead judges and the public prosecutor from a pool of candidates, and give Egypt's powerful military the role of protecting "the constitution and democracy".

Cairo's streets have been adorned with banners encouraging people to vote, some of them backing a "yes" vote.

Ahmed Maher, a founder of the April 6 Movement, one of the youth groups behind the 2011 uprising that toppled President Hosni Mubarak, said Egyptians still had a chance to make their voice heard.

"Try to change the result, even by a small ratio," he wrote in a message posted on social media. "Tell your relatives, friends and acquaintance to go down and say 'No'."

Some 61 million of Egypt's nearly 100 million population areeligible to vote. The result is expected within five days.

(Reporting by Cairo bureau; Writing by Sami Aboudi; Editing by Aidan Lewis and Edmund Blair)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Updated Date:

TAGS:

Find latest and upcoming tech gadgets online on Tech2 Gadgets. Get technology news, gadgets reviews & ratings. Popular gadgets including laptop, tablet and mobile specifications, features, prices, comparison.

also read

Hong Kong marks handover anniversary as national security law takes effect
World

Hong Kong marks handover anniversary as national security law takes effect

HONG KONG (Reuters) - Hong Kong authorities threw a security blanket across the city early on Wednesday, the 23rd anniversary of the former British colony's handover to Chinese rule, hours after new national security legislation took effect in the financial hub. The contentious law will punish crimes of secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces with up to life in prison, heralding a more authoritarian era for China's freest city.

Kentucky Democrats pick ex-fighter pilot McGrath to challenge U.S. Senate leader McConnell
World

Kentucky Democrats pick ex-fighter pilot McGrath to challenge U.S. Senate leader McConnell

By Susan Cornwell (Reuters) - Former fighter pilot Amy McGrath said on Tuesday she was ready to take on Senate Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell after edging out a Black progressive to clinch the Democratic nomination for the seat.

World shares end stellar quarter but still down in 2020
Business

World shares end stellar quarter but still down in 2020

By Rodrigo Campos NEW YORK (Reuters) - A global stocks index rose on Tuesday and marked its largest quarterly gain since 2009 as investors continued to look for signs of an economic recovery while shrugging off data showing a rising number of COVID-19 cases. The possible return of Libyan oil production, which has been at a trickle since the start of the year, weighed on crude prices. World shares rose 18.7% this quarter, the biggest quarterly gain in 11 years, but are still down more than 7% so far this year due to a slump of 34% between Feb.