Egyptians abroad cast ballots in constitution reform referendum
Banners read in Arabic 'yes for Constitutional Amendments' Referendum', in front of the great pyramid of Giza to urge Egyptians to participate in the upcoming referendum for the constitutional amendments, Giza, Egypt, Apr. 19, 2019. EPA-EFE/Mohamed Hossam
Cairo, Apr 19 (efe-epa).- Egyptians living abroad Friday began casting their ballots in a referendum on constitutional reforms that could allow current President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to rule until 2030.
According to the state-run MENA news agency, Egyptians living abroad will be able to vote until Sunday at the embassies and consulates in the countries where they reside between 9 am until 9 pm, as per each country's local time.
Some 140 polling stations are distributed across 124 countries.
Egyptians can vote using their passports or identity cards, MENA reported.
The referendum in Egypt proper is set to begin Saturday and continue until Monday and is slated to be a large vote as Egypt is the most populous Arab nation in the world.
On Tuesday, 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, and allows presidents to serve a maximum of two consecutive terms.
Egyptian lawmakers also added a temporary provision (No. 241) so that Al-Sisi, who was re-elected for a second four-year term last year, could extend his current mandate to six years and may be re-elected in 2024.
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 of the Parliament.
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.
A group of 120 pro-government lawmakers from the 596-seat parliament signed a request on Feb. 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.