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Tuesday / July 16.

Banners and posters flood Egypt’s streets ahead of referendum

CAIRO: Banners and posters have been put up across major Egyptian cities, ahead of a proposed referendum on significant amendments to the country’s constitution.

The changes, approved by the Egyptian parliament in February, would see presidential terms extended from four to six years, as well as alterations to the number of terms presidents can serve.

If passed, the proposals would allow the incumbent President Abdul Fattah El-Sisi, to remain in office until 2034.

Posters and signs have been erected in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, scene of several symbolic political protests and upheavals in recent years, and the surrounding areas of the capital. They have also been spotted in Mokattam, Giza, Al-Falaki and elsewhere.

Most bear the insignia of the Nation’s Future Party (NFP), the pro-military faction who support the amendments. Many feature slogans including “Do the right thing” and “Share your opinion‚ say yes to a better future.”

Senior official Imad Saif told Arab News that the party was keen to find as many ways as possible to raise awareness of the impending changes among the general public, stressing that it had organized seminars and conferences to explain them and their importance for the country.

His colleague Ahmed Dokak added that participation in the forthcoming referendum would be a demonstration of the public’s support for the direction the country was moving in, and a de facto endorsement of El-Sisi himself.

The date of the referendum has yet to be announced, and the final draft of the amendments has also not been confirmed. 

A government source told Arab News they expected it to be “between April 21-23,” but that this would be subject to Parliament agreeing on the wording of the draft.

Critics have raised concerns, however, over the amount of power the referendum will hand the president if it goes in his favor.

There have also been questions raised as to the source of financing for the banner and poster campaign, with a lack of clarity as to whether funds have been raised through individual donors, or from the coffers of the NFP.

via AN