CAIRO, Egypt -- Egypt's official news agency says the president has appointed 90 people to parliament's upper house, a day before the second round of a referendum on a highly contentious draft constitution.

If the proposed constitution is approved, the Shura Council, normally an advisory body with no legislative authority, is set to wield temporary lawmaking powers until the lower house is elected in two months.

President Mohammed Morsi has the right to pick a third of the Shura Council's 270-members. The opposition says he chose the ones least likely to challenge his Islamist backers who already dominate the rest of the body, elected earlier this year with a low voter turnout of 8 per cent. If passed, the proposed constitution limits the number of presidential appointees to only 10.