Egypt blocks petition against Sisi’s presidential extension
Nearly 60,000 people had signed the petition, dubbed Batel - Arabic for 'Void' - before it was taken down by authorities.
The campaign aimed to empower Egyptians "to tell Sisi what they really think about his amendments and his government in general,” Ayman Nour, leader of Ghad El Thawra Liberal Party, said in a statement prior to the action against the petition.
“We are concerned that these constitutional amendments will be the final step towards transforming Egypt into a fully autocratic state, with extreme human rights violations and failures in all aspects of life for many years to come,” he said.
Later this month, Egyptians are expected to take part in the referendum that could see Sisi extend his rule beyond the end of his second term in 2022.
Constitutional amendments would also increase the military's political role and bring the judiciary under Sisi's control.
Human Rights Watch urged the US Congress to pressure Sisi, saying the referendum could "institutionalise authoritarianism,” ahead of the Egyptian leaders’ Washington visit where he met President Donald Trump.
Sisi's planned meeting with Trump is seen by analysts as an attempt to legitimatise his crackdown on activists and garner support for his constitutional proposals.
Sisi ousted Egypt's first democratically elected president, Mohamed Morsi, in a coup in 2013, promising to bring stability, security and democracy to Egypt.
Over the last six years, Sisi's government has engaged in a heavy-handed crackdown against activists and NGOs, which fueled anger and resentment among a vast segment of Egyptian society.
Trump has been ignoring demands to hold Sisi responsible for his gross human rights violation Egypt has witnessed since Sisi took over power.
During Sisi's visit to US last September, Trump said Egypt president was an "outstanding friend" and described his strategy with respect to handling terrorism as "an outstanding job".
Trump’s comments on Egypt president appear to contradict what he thinks behind the scene.
Investigative journalist Bob Woodward, in his latest tell-all biography on the US president, "Fear: Trump in the White House", alleged that Trump referred to his Egyptian counterpart, Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, as a "f****** killer".
Trump also told his lawyer, John Dowd, that Sisi "made him sweat", following a phone conversation they had.
"Dowd, remember who I'm talking to," Trump said, according to the journalist's book. "The guy's a f***ing killer. This guy's a f***ing killer! I'm getting it done. He'll make you sweat on the phone.”
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