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Early expat vote results could spoil electoral process: UK Egyptians

Egyptian intellectuals argue that electoral commission's decision to announce expat election results threatens integrity of local voting, which will take place a week after expat polling ends

Amer Sultan in London, Tuesday 15 May 2012
Egyptian expatriates
File photo: Pro-democracy supporters react to news of the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak in Egypt on the Edgware Road in London, Friday, Feb. 11, 2011. (Photo: AP)
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Leaders within the United Kingdom's Egyptian community heavily criticised the Supreme Presidential  Electoral Commission (SPEC) for its decision to announce the results of Egyptian overseas voting before Egyptians in Egypt start to vote.

According to SPEC instructions, Egyptian ambassadors and consulars abroad should count votes and announce the results after the closing of voting stations by end of Thursday, 17 May, the last day for expat voting. The Egyptian embassy in London says the counting is most likely to start Friday morning and the results announced by end of that day. 

Egyptian community leaders in the UK warned that announcing the results before voting starts in Egypt on 23 and 24 May.  

“I am shocked. This step is just a joke. I cannot believe that this is happening," Dr Magdi Ishaq, deputy chairman of the British Egyptian Association told Ahram Online.

He added that announcing the results of Egyptian expat voting is most likely to influence the voting process inside Egypt and could be used by the winner’s campaign to mislead domestic voters.

“People who are still undecided in Egypt will be influenced by results of overseas voting. Voters inside Egypt who are still confused might say ' let us choose the president who has been chosen by the Egyptian intellectuals abroad because they know better than us in Egypt,'" Ishaq argues.

This would be very big mistake, he believes.

According to SPEC, about 587,000 Egyptians around the world have registered to vote in Egypt's first post-Mubarak presidential elections. The number of voters who registered to vote in the UK and Northern Ireland are 6225 eligible voters. They began voting Friday, 11 May.

Western countries collect the votes of their citizens and servicemen abroad, but results are not announced before the entire election process ends.

“Announcing the results of expats' votes before local voting ends means that we allow a very small minority of voters to decide on behalf of the very vast majority," Mustafa Ragab, director of Egyptian House in London said.

“This is a farce,” he added.

The Egyptian Association in the UK (EAUK) rejected the SPEC's decision and called on the commission to reconsider immediately.

“It would be ridiculous if the SPEC insisted to announce the overseas voting results,” Omar Ismal , president of EAUK told Ahram Online.

He considers such step a prompt for political chaos in Egypt, adding that he cannot believe that the SPEC, which consists of very senior and highly-experienced judges, would endorse such a decision. 

The Egyptian expat community leaders say the decision is politically wrong and may have serious legal ramifications.

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