Egypt's Sisi rules out extending presidential term

Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi ruled out a constitutional amendment to extend his term, saying an election would be held next year and he will not run again in 2022, in an interview with CNBC Monday.

President Sisi is a former army chief who overthrew his Islamist predecessor in 2013 and won an election a year later.

Some of his supporters, including a member of parliament, want to allow President Sisi to stay longer in office by extending the time between elections and removing the two four-year-term limit.

But President Sisi said elections will take place as scheduled in March or April 2018 and he would not ask for a constitutional amendment.

Stand and win

President Sisi did not say he would run again, but the former field marshal is expected to stand and win in another landslide in the absence of any serious opposition.

"I'm with preserving two four year terms and not to change it," he told the American broadcaster.

"I'm not for any amendments to be made to the constitution in this period," he added.

President Sisi won the 2014 election with about 97 per cent of the vote. His only opponent, Mr Hamdeen Sabahi, received less votes than spoiled ballots.

A crackdown

The president is popular among many Egyptians who say the country needs a firm hand following years up tumult that battered the economy.

But he has faced mounting criticism over a crackdown on Islamist and secular opponents and what rights groups say are increasingly repressive measures to stifle dissent.

So far, only one opponent, lawyer and dissident Khaled Ali, has announced his candidacy for the 2018 election.

Mr Ali, who challenged an unpopular government deal to hand over two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia, had run in the 2012 election that brought Islamist president Mohamed Morsy to power.

He received less than one per cent of the vote then.

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