CAIRO: Polls opened on Monday for a third and final day of voting in Egypt on constitutional changes that could keep President Abdel Fattah al Sisi in power until 2030.
Sisi, who handily won to become president in 2014 and was re-elected in 2018 after eliminating all serious political competitors, is widely expected to garner a comfortable win in the three-day referendum.
The sweeping changes would extend his current term until 2024 and would also give him the right to stand again for re-election for another six-year term.
Other controversial amendments on the ballot include boosting his control over the judiciary and giving the military even greater influence in Egyptian political life.
The final results will be announced on 27 April.
AFP correspondents saw pro-Sisi volunteers handing out boxed meals at several polling stations in Cairo to voters after they had cast their ballots.
The boxes contained staples such as oil, rice, pasta and sugar.
Human Rights Watch has criticised the “grossly unfree, rights-abusive environment” of the vote, where the No campaign has been effectively muzzled.
Ahmed Badawy, an engineer and official with Dostour Party, tweeted on his account Sunday: “I have been arrested… and now in a police van” with the widely used hashtag “Go down, say No”.
He posted a picture of himself earlier holding a red placard with the text “No, to the constitutional changes”.
His lawyer was prevented from seeing him in the police station, said local rights group Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms.
Some voters told AFP their employers had encouraged them to vote “Yes” transporting them in company buses.
In their initial report on the first day of the nationwide electoral process, an international observer team said: “there were no hurdles to voting”.
Egypt’s foreign media body on Sunday denounced instances of critical international coverage.
The referendum also proposes other changes to the five-year-old constitution, including creating a second parliamentary chamber and a quota ensuring at least 25 percent of MPs are women.