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Egypt constitutional referendum approved, cementing Sisi's power to 2030

Other amendments allow Sisi to appoint one or more vice presidents, senior judges, attorney general and head of the supreme constitutional court
Egypt approved constitutional referendum that allows President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to stay in power until 2030 (AFP)

Egypt approved a constitutional referendum that allows President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to stay in power until 2030, the election commission said.

The body added on Tuesday that nearly 90 percent of the votes cast were in favour of the new constitutional reforms.

However, nationwide turnout was low, at only 44 percent, the commission said.

"These [changes] are effective from now as your constitution," commission chairman Lasheen Ibrahim told a news conference broadcast on state TV, adding that more than 23.4 million voters had endorsed the changes in the referendum.

The amendments include articles that would give Sisi two more years to his current term, extending his term to 2024. He will also be able to run for an additional six-year term, according to Article 241 in the amendments.

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Other articles include provisions that would allow Sisi to appoint one or more vice presidents, senior judges, the attorney general and the head of the supreme constitutional court. 

They also include a 25 percent quota for women in parliament.

Both secular and Islamist movements have issued statements on Tuesday rejecting the amendments.

The Muslim Brotherhood described the amendments as “a new coup”, in reference to the military coup led by Sisi against his predecessor Mohammed Morsi who hailed from the Brotherhood. The group also called on Egyptians to boycott the vote.

Sisi supporters say the amendments are necessary to give him more time to implement his platform, including major development projects and economic reforms.

Sisi is a former minister of defence who came to power in 2013 after leading a coup against Morsi, Egypt's first freely elected civilian president. 

Since his highly contested electoral win in 2014, Sisi has overseen what independent groups have described as the worst crackdown on human rights in Egypt's modern history, with the detention of at least 60,000 political prisoners and a zero-tolerance policy towards critics.