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El-Sisi Could Stay in Power Until 2030 Under Egypt Plan

Category: Middle East,World

CAIRO — Egypt’s Parliament on Tuesday passed amendments to the Constitution that could allow President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to remain in power until 2030.

The vote, which sends the amendments to a national referendum, was seen by critics as another step back to authoritarianism, eight years after a pro-democracy uprising ended Hosni Mubarak’s three-decade rule.

The 596-member assembly, packed with Mr. el-Sisi’s supporters, overwhelmingly gave its initial approval in February.

“Today we are concluding what we started in February,” Speaker Ali Abdel-Al said at the beginning of Tuesday’s session. “In this great day, we offer to the Egyptian people a draft bill of the constitutional amendments.”

The national referendum is likely to take place before early May when the Muslim holy month of Ramadan starts.

Since early April, the Egyptian capital has been awash with large banners encouraging people to vote in favor of the changes. In Cairo’s central Tahrir Square, where mass protests became the symbol of the 2011 anti-Mubarak uprising and of hopes for democratic change in Egypt, the posters urge people to vote in the referendum.

The constitutional changes would extend a president’s term in office from four to six years and allow for a maximum of two terms. But they also include a special article specific to Mr. el-Sisi that extends his current second four-year term to six years and allows him to run for another six-year term in 2024 — potentially extending his rule until 2030.

The February draft of the special article was different, proposing to allow Mr. el-Sisi to run for two more six-year terms after his current term expires in 2022, possibly putting him at the helm of Egypt until 2034.

No reason was given for the change, apparently made by the committee that drafted the final version of the text.

It has been nearly six years since Mr. el-Sisi led the military overthrow of the country’s first freely elected president, Mohammed Morsi, after mass protests against his rule.

Mr. El-Sisi was elected president first in 2014 and re-elected to another four-year term last year after all potentially serious challengers were arrested or pressured to withdraw.

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