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Egypt referendum: 88.3% back changes that could see President al-Sisi stay in power until 2030

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By Chris Harris  & Alice Tidey  with Reuters
A campaign poster for Al-Sisi's constitutional amendment
A campaign poster for Al-Sisi's constitutional amendment

Nearly 90% of Egyptian voters have backed constitutional changes that could see President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi stay in power until 2030.

They made their voices known in a referendum. The turnout of the vote — held from April 20-22 — was 44.33%.

Egypt's election commission announced the results on Tuesday, saying 88.83% of voters had approved the reforms.

"These (changes) are effective from now as your constitution," commission chairman Lasheen Ibrahim told a news conference broadcast on state TV.

The amendments, which were approved by Egypt's parliament last week, 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.

They will also bolster the role of the military and expand the president's power over judicial appointments.

Al-Sisi thanked voters in a tweet, saying they "dazzled the world with their national awareness of the challenges facing our dear Egypt."

"The referendum on the constitutional amendments", he added, "will be recorded with pride in the history of our great nation."

But the vote was marred by claims of vote buying with activists posting pictures on social media purported to show white cardboard boxes packed with groceries handed out to people after they voted.

Ahmed Badawi, an activist protesting the referendum with a sign reading "No to constitutional amendments" was also arrested, according to the Egyptian Organisation for Human Rights.

Lila Hassan from the International Rescue Committee, an NGO, accused al-Sisi's government of having eliminated all forms of opposition and criticised the speediness of the process.