Egyptians are voting on whether to let their President tighten his grip on power and stay in office until 2030

Egyptians pose with a newspaper and a poster of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi outside an Alexandria school as voting gets underway Saturday on constitutional amendments.

(CNN)Egypt begins voting Saturday on a series of sweeping changes to its constitution that would tighten President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi's grip on power and could allow him to stay in office until 2030.

More than 61 million people are eligible to vote in the three-day referendum, according to state-run Ahram Online.
State television showed President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi casting his ballot Saturday at a school in the Cairo suburb of Heliopolis.
    More judges and administrative assistants were sent to several polling stations due to "huge" turnout, National Elections Authority spokesman Judge Mahmoud El-Sharif said, according to Ahram Online.
    Fourteen amendments to Egypt's 2014 constitution are up for a vote, as well as two new articles, state news reported. Egypt's parliament voted Tuesday in favor of the changes.
    One amendment would extend a presidential term from four to six years. It would also add two more years to Sisi's current term and allow him to seek re-election for another six-year term in 2024.
    Another measure would expand Sisi's power over the legislative branch by creating an upper house known as a senate. The president would be able to handpick one-third of the members.
    The size of the lower house would be reduced, from 596 to 450, with at least 25% of seats reserved for women. 
    The revised charter would also give the president new authority to appoint members of the judiciary.

    Opponents warn of an authoritarian push

    Supporters of the changes said they would bolster Egypt's economy, which is struggling to recover from the political turmoil of recent years, and strengthen security. 
    Opponents see a further step toward authoritarianism.  
    "These amendments aim to expand military trials for civilians, undermine the independence of the judiciary, and strengthen impunity for human rights violations by members of the security forces, furthering the climate of repression that already exists in the country," Amnesty International's deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa, Magdalena Mughrabi, said Tuesday in a statement.
    Sisi, a former general, became president in 2014 after a coup the previous year. He was re-elected in 2018 with 97% of the vote.
    Since he came into power, Sisi has cracked down on dissent.
      Human rights groups have accused the regime of widespread and systematic torture of political prisoners, silencing dissidents and using death sentences to "settle scores."
      Sisi's government has denied the allegations.
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