Egyptians will begin voting today in a nationwide referendum on changes to the constitution.
One of the amendments proposes extending the presidential term from four to six years, while continuing to allow the president to serve a maximum of two terms. However, a specific exception is included for incumbent President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi, which would allow him to seek a third term in 2024—potentially extending his rule until 2030.
Critics claim the amendments represent another step towards authoritarianism. Since coming to power in 2014, President Sisi has clamped down on political dissent while targeting Islamists, including the Muslim Brotherhood, and prominent secular activists alike.
If Egyptian voters approve the amendments—which is likely, given the large and influential propaganda campaign the government has organised in support of the changes—expect protests and potential violence from liberal activists and Islamists. Success may only encourage the incumbent president to further restrict democracy in Egypt, potentially by imposing harsher restrictions on the press and free speech, or attempting to limit the parliamentary privileges of the opposition party—the ultra-conservative Salafi party al-Nour.
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Nick is the Director of the Daily Brief and a contributing Senior Analyst to it. An attorney, his areas of expertise include international law, international and domestic criminal law, security affairs in Europe and the Middle East, and human rights.