CAIRO – The Latest on Egypt’s vote on a referendum potentially extending President el-Sissi’s rule to 2030 (all times local):
Egyptians have begun voting on constitutional amendments aimed at keeping President el-Sissi in power until 2030.
The referendum comes amid an unprecedented crackdown on dissent in recent years. El-Sissi’s government has arrested thousands of people, most of them Islamists but also prominent secular activists, and rolled back freedoms won in a 2011 pro-democracy uprising.
The proposed changes were blasted by critics as another major step toward authoritarian rule.
Egyptians are being asked to vote on constitutional amendments that would allow President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi to stay in power until 2030.
The three-day voting period for the nationwide referendum starts at 9 a.m. (0700 GMT) Saturday on proposed changes that would also further enshrine the military’s role in politics. Parliament, packed with el-Sissi supporters, overwhelmingly approved the amendments on Tuesday.
Opposition parties have called on voters to reject the changes, seen by critics as a step backward to authoritarianism eight years after a pro-democracy uprising.
The vote comes amid an unprecedented crackdown by authorities on dissent since the military ouster of an elected but divisive president in 2013.
El-Sissi came to power in 2014 and was re-elected for a second four-year term last year.