Final day of Egyptian referendum to extend El-Sisi’s rule

Egyptian security forces stand guard outside a polling station in the Mediterranean port city of Alexandria, where locals were voting in a referendum on constitutional amendments on the second day of a three-day poll, on April 21, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 22 April 2019
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Final day of Egyptian referendum to extend El-Sisi’s rule

  • El-Sisi is widely expected to win backing for the proposed amendments
  • The sweeping changes would extend his current term until 2024 and would also give him the right to stand for another six-year term

CAIRO: Egyptians voted for a third and final day Monday on constitutional changes that could keep President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi in power until 2030, amid reports of people actively being encouraged to go the polls.
El-Sisi, who become president in 2014 and was re-elected in 2018 after eliminating all serious political competitors, is widely expected to win backing for the proposed amendments.
The sweeping changes would extend his current term until 2024 and would also give him the right to stand for another six-year term.
Other controversial amendments on the ballot include boosting his control over the judiciary and giving the military even greater influence in Egyptian political life.
AFP correspondents saw pro-El-Sisi volunteers handing out boxed meals at several polling stations in Cairo to voters after they had cast their ballots.
The parcels contained staples such as oil, rice, pasta and sugar.
Human Rights Watch has criticized the “grossly unfree, rights-abusive environment” of the vote, where the ‘No’ campaign has been effectively muzzled.
Ahmed Badawy, an engineer and youth activist with two political parties, wrote on Twitter on Sunday that he had been arrested, using the widely used hashtag “Go down, say No.”
He posted a picture of himself earlier holding a red placard in an upmarket suburb of Cairo with the text “No, to the constitutional changes.”
“He didn’t commit any crimes. He was expressing his views in a peaceful manner,” Badawy’s lawyer Mohamed Al-Baqer told AFP.
Badawy is detained in a police station but the family have received no official notification from the authorities, Baqer said.
In Imbaba, a working-class suburb hugging the Nile, an eyewitness on Monday told AFP of seeing street vendors being forcefully loaded onto buses to go vote.
On the first day of the referendum, some voters told AFP their employers had encouraged them to vote “Yes” and transported them to polling stations in company buses.
In their initial report, an international observer team said “there were no hurdles to voting.”
Egypt’s state-affiliated foreign media body on Sunday denounced instances of critical international coverage.
The referendum also proposes other changes to the five-year-old constitution, including creating a second parliamentary chamber and a quota ensuring at least 25 percent of lawmakers are women.
The final results will be announced on April 27.


US to hold economic conference in Bahrain to encourage investment in Palestinian areas

Updated 18 min 18 sec ago
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US to hold economic conference in Bahrain to encourage investment in Palestinian areas

  • "Peace to Prosperity" conference will be held from June 25-26
  • The conference will bring together government and business leaders

WASHINGTON: The US is to hold an international economic workshop in Bahrain in late June to encourage investment in Palestinian areas as the first part of its Middle East peace plan, according to a White House statement.

The "Peace to Prosperity" conference, which will be held from June 25-26, is intended to "galvanize support for potential economic investments" that could be made possible by a Middle East peace agreement, the statement added.

The conference will bring together government and business leaders to help "jump-start the economic portion of the US peace initiative," the White House statement said.

More to follow...