Egyptians living abroad began casting their votes in a referendum on constitutional amendments on Friday, a day before voting is set to begin in Egypt.
Egyptian voters in 124 countries will have from Friday to Sunday to cast their ballots at 140 polling points at Egyptian embassies and consulates abroad, a foreign ministry spokesman said on Thursday.
Polling stations will open from 9am to 9pm local time on each of the three election days.
New Zealand was the first country to open its doors to voters, on what was Thursday night by Cairo local time.
The Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS) said in 2019 9.5 million Egyptians live abroad.
The estimated population of Egyptians in the homeland is 98 million, according to CAPMAS.
Voters in Egypt will cast their votes in the referendum from Saturday to Monday.
More than 61 million Egyptians are eligible to vote in the referendum, according to the election commission.
They will be voting for or against a package of constitutional amendments approved by parliament earlier this week.
Egypt’s foreign ministry has published photos of voters queuing to cast their ballots and others waving national flags at missions in Muscat, Milan, Dubai, Amman and Riyadh.
Musqat, Oman (Photo:@MFAEgypt)
There were no polling stations made available for Egyptians in Syria, Yemen, Somalia and Libya due to security concerns in these countries, the election commission has said.
Musqat, Oman (Photo:@MFAEgypt)
The current constitution was approved in a 2014 referendum.
It was a correction to an Islamist-backed controversial charter drafted under then Islamist President Mohamed Morsi, nearly two years after his predecessor Hosni Mubarak was overthrown in a popular uprising.
More than 680,000 Egyptian expatriates were eligible to vote in the 2014 referendum.
The proposed changes include extending presidential terms to six years instead of four, extending President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi's current term by two years to end in 2024 instead of 2022; and allowing El-Sisi to run for another term in 2024.
El-Sisi was first elected president in 2014, and won a second term last year, securing 97 percent of the vote.
The amendments being voted on this weekend give the president new powers to appoint members of the judiciary, and would create a second house of parliament, the Senate, with one-third of its members to be appointed by the president.
They also create the post of vice president, allowing the president to appoint one or more vice presidents.
They allocate a quarter of the seats in parliament to women.
They also assign the country's armed forces the role of "safeguarding the constitution and democracy and the fundamental makeup of the country and its civil nature."
The parliament backed the changes in a final vote on Tuesday, with 531 lawmakers of the 596-seat body voting in favour, 22 voting against, and one abstention.
Those who back the changes say they are important for the stability of a country, and to allow the president more time to carry out his economic development plans. Critics say the changes could lead to to increased presidential powers.
The parliament held a series of national dialogue sessions on the proposals last month, with MPs hearing from dozens of university professors, Al-Azhar and the Coptic Orthodox Church clerics, opposition political parties, representatives from state-run-media, and public and private TV and radio channels.
Sicily, Italy (Photo: @MFAEgypt)
Canada. 19 April, 2019 Photo:@MFAEgypt
Egyptians hrading to vote in New Jersey, US Photo:@MFAEgypt
Egyptians vote in Hamburg, Germany Photo:@MFAEgypt
Egyptians cast their votes at a diplomatic mission in Sydney, Australia, Friday April 19, 2019 (Photo: Egyptian Foreign Ministry)
Egyptians queue at a diplomatic mission in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia to vote on constitution amendments, on Friday, April 19, 2019 (Photo: Egyptian Foreign Ministry)