Rights group denounces 'unfree and unfair' Egyptian vote

Rights group denounces 'unfree and unfair' Egyptian vote
Election workers count ballots at the end of three-day vote of the referendum on constitutional amendments at polling station in Cairo, Egypt, Monday, April 22, 2019. Egyptians are voting on constitutional amendments that would allow el-Sissi to stay in power until 2030.(AP Photo/Amr Nabil)

CAIRO (AP) — An international rights group says the referendum approved by Egyptian voters that would allow President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi to extend his rule to 2030 was held in an “unfair and unfree” environment and has “no pretense to legitimacy.”

Human Rights Watch says the three-day vote, which concluded Monday, was “marred by serious flaws,” including reports of citizens being forced to vote or bribed with food and money.

Michael Page, the group’s deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa, says el-Sissi, who has presided over a sweeping crackdown on dissent, “is re-creating the impoverished and repressive political environment that drove Egyptians to revolt against former President (Hosni) Mubarak in 2011.”

Authorities said Tuesday the amendments were approved by 88.83% of voters, with turnout of 44.33%.