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Egyptian voters back constitutional changes in referendum

Nearly 90 percent of Egyptian voters have approved in a referendum constitutional changes, the election commission said on Tuesday, in a move that could pave the way for President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to stay in power until 2030, Reuters reported.

Voter turnout during the three-day referendum was 44.33 percent and 88.83 percent of those taking part approved the amendments while 11.17 percent voted no, the commission said.

“These (changes) are effective from now as your constitution,” commission chairman Lasheen Ibrahim said after he announced the result on state TV, adding that more than 23.4 million voters had endorsed the changes in the referendum.

The amendments will extend Sisi’s current term to six years from four and allow him to run again for a third six-year term in 2024 and to appoint one or more vice president.

They will also grant the president control over appointing head judges and the public prosecutor from a pool of candidates, and give Egypt’s powerful military the role of protecting “the constitution and democracy”.

Sisi expressed his “appreciation and pride” on Twitter to the Egyptian people who he said had “dazzled the world with their awareness of the challenges” facing Egypt by participating in the referendum.

Sisi’s supporters say he has stabilized Egypt and needs more time to reform and develop the economy.