Egyptians oppose Sisi's bid for indefinite rule
Prominent Egyptian opposition figures have rallied to reject proposed amendments to the country's constitution that would allow President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to extend his rule until 2034.
The online campaign gathered steam on Sunday after lawmakers tabled an amendment on the duration of presidential mandates and could see Sisi stay in power for another 16 years.
"No to amending the constitution," said opposition leader Hamdeen Sabahi, the only candidate who ran against Sisi in the 2014 presidential election.
Opposition lawmaker Haitham al-Hariri warned the changes to the constitution risked setting up an "evil, despotic" regime.
"Tampering with presidential terms in the constitution would establish an authoritarian, despotic regime that would be pure evil - so do not commit this crime," Hariri said in a Facebook post.
Activist Mahienour al-Masry, who was released from prison last year, also harshly criticised the proposed amendments.
"Amending the constitution will never protect you. What will protect you is when you have social and economic policies that benefit poor people and freedoms," Masry tweeted.
"Sisi is definitely the farthest person away from that," she added.
The bill hopes to lengthen of mandates to two six-year terms, which are currently limited to two four-year terms.
Analyst Mohamed el-Meshad told The New Arab that the long-speculated move appears to be aimed at consolidating the Sisi government's grip on power.
"This seems to be an effort from lawmakers to continue a process of consolidating Sisi's power and literally transform the legislative constitution of the country to consecrate the role of the military and ensure a very very long tenure for this president," Meshad said.
"It obviously runs counter to numerous statements from the government that there wouldn't be any attempts to extend this presidency."
Human rights groups have long condemned the general-turned-president for cracking down on secular and left-wing activists, as well as the Islamist supporters of the banned Muslim Brotherhood group.
Sisi led the overthrow of Egypt's first freely elected president Mohamed Morsi in 2013 after street protests against the Islamist leader's rule.
Sisi was re-elected in March 2018, winning a second four-year term after securing more than 97 percent of the vote in the absence of any serious competition.