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Egypt expats vote in 'president-for-life referendum' Open in fullscreen

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Egypt expats vote in 'president-for-life referendum'

The voting is to last three days, to maximize turnout [Getty]

Date of publication: 19 April, 2019

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Egypt's state news agency says expats have started voting on constitutional amendments that would allow President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to stay in power until 2030.

Egypt's state news agency says expats have started voting on constitutional amendments that would allow President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to stay in power until 2030.

MENA reported that Egyptians living abroad lined up outside their country's diplomatic missions to vote on Friday, a day before the referendum starts in Egypt.

The voting is to last three days, reportedly to maximize turnout.

The changes to the constitution are seen by critics as another step back towards authoritarianism, eight years after a pro-democracy uprising ended Hosni Mubarak's 30-year rule.

The dates were announced less than 24 hours after Egypt's rubber-stamp parliament, packed with Sisi's supporters, overwhelmingly approved the proposed changes that also set to further enshrine the military's role in politics.

The referendum comes after two veteran presidents of nearby nations, Abdelaziz Bouteflika and Omar al-Bashir, were ousted from power in Algeria and Sudan respectively, following mass street demonstrations.

As army chief of staff at the time, Sisi led the military's overthrow of elected president Mohamed Morsi in 2013 following mass protests against the Islamist leader's rule.

With the military's backing, he won his first term as president in 2014, three years after the uprising that toppled Mubarak, and was re-elected in March 2018 with more than 97 percent of the vote, standing virtually unopposed after the incarceration and deportation of several would-be candidates.

His regime has been widely criticised by human rights groups as a police state, notably the jailing of some 60,000 political opponents, activists, dissidents and social media users.

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