Egyptians at Polls to Decide on Extension to Sisi’s Tenure
Egyptians are heading to the polls Sunday for the second day of a three-day referendum on constitutional amendments approved by parliament that would allow President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to run for a third term. The move has raised concern that formal ratification would lead to a regression to army rule, as had been the case for decades prior to the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings that deposed longtime strongman Hosni Mubarak. A spokesman for Egypt’s National Elections Authority confirmed that there were some 61 million eligible voters and that the final results would be announced within the week. Sisi’s government launched a campaign to encourage a high voter turnout, which Cairo believes would validate a process that most analysts say will be rubber-stamped by a population craving political, economic and security stability. The amendments, if approved, would extend Sisi’s current term by two years and virtually guarantee his re-election for another six-year stint running through 2030. Critics have accused Cairo of cracking down on dissent, including jailing thousands of activists and Islamists. The Egyptian military has engaged for the better half of a decade in a campaign to destroy an Islamic State affiliate in the Sinai Peninsula that has killed hundreds of military men and civilians in a series of dozens of attacks.