Egyptians vote to “Do the right”
Egyptians voted yesterday in a referendum that aims to cement the rule of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. Voters were being asked to back amendments to the constitution to allow Sisi, 64, to run for another six-year term while boosting his control over the judiciary and giving the military even greater influence in political life.
Sisi himself was among the first to vote when polls opened, casting his ballot in the upmarket Cairo suburb of Heliopolis. In Shubra, a working-class neighborhood of the capital, dozens of voters, mostly women carrying their children, queued outside a polling station in the local high school. In Cairo, troops and police were deployed in numbers although the interior ministry denied to give any nationwide figures.
Egypt is still battling a jihadist insurgency based in the Sinai Peninsula that has seen attacks in Cairo and other cities. Sisi has argued that he needs longer to complete the job of restoring security and stability after the turmoil that followed the overthrow of veteran autocrat Hosni Mubarak in the Arab Spring of 2011.
Out on the streets, his supporters waved flags bearing their campaign motto: “Do the Right,” as they pressed passers-by to turn out and vote ‘Yes’. At a polling station in Manyal, a Cairo suburb overlooking the Nile, Mohamed Abdel Salam, 45, said he was voting enthusiastically in support of the changes. “I don’t care about the presidential terms,” he said. “Sisi could stay forever as long as he’s doing his job... and he has already done a lot”.