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Egypt voters approve referendum extending president's rule

Army officers secure a polling station as people enter to vote on constitutional amendments on the second day of a nationwide referendum in Cairo, Egypt, Sunday April 21, 2019. Egyptians are voting on constitutional amendments that would allow el-Sissi to stay in power until 2030.

CAIRO (AP) — Polling centers in Egypt closed Monday after a third and final day of voting on constitutional amendments that would allow President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi to remain in office until 2030 and broaden the military's role.

The results are expected within a week. The referendum is virtually guaranteed to be approved, as the government pushed for high turnout to grant it legitimacy.

Authorities have waged a wide-scale crackdown on dissent since el-Sissi led the military overthrow of an elected but divisive Islamist president in 2013. The referendum is widely seen as another step toward restoring authoritarian rule eight years after a pro-democracy uprising.

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Opposition parties have called on voters to reject the measure, but they have little influence in parliament, which is packed with el-Sissi supporters and overwhelmingly approved the changes.

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Trucks with loudspeakers drove around central Cairo Monday morning, playing patriotic songs and urging people to vote. Some voters were offered free rides or food parcels to increase turnout in the national referendum.

The National Council for Human Rights, a state-appointed body, reported Sunday that people were giving food to voters, and said cars with signs advertising political parties could be seen transporting people to voting centers.

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