Ambassador to Saudi Arabia calls for 'clear voting mechanism' for Egyptians abroad

MENA, Sunday 16 Oct 2011

Mahmoud Ouf says electronic voting methods could be used to facilitate voting of Egyptians living abroad in presidential elections

Egypt’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia Mahmoud Ouf has demanded authorities clarify how Egyptians living abroad will be able to cast their votes in upcoming presidential elections.

Local media and activists are also pressuring the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), which has been running the country since the ouster of former president Hosni Mubarak, into granting foreign-based Egyptians the right to vote in parliamentary elections.

However, while Ouf said it would not be realistic to pave the way for them to vote in parliamentary elections, he insisted they should be able to play a role in choosing the next president.

“According to the Egyptian constitution, Egyptians living abroad should be able to vote in the elections. The authorities in Egypt do not oppose that,” Ouf said in an interview with Egypt’s state MENA news agency on Sunday.

“It is important to introduce an untraditional way by which we can make sure a large number of foreign-based Egyptians participate in the voting process.

“I believe electronic voting would be the most effective means, because the premises of the Egyptian embassy and consulate in Saudi Arabia cannot handle the expected large number of Egyptians who want to vote.”

SCAF is yet to reveal whether Egyptians abroad will be allowed to vote in parliamentary elections.   

Elections for the lower and upper houses of parliament are due to begin in November 2011 and January 2012 respectively.

“This possibility is very difficult; it will be a very complicated process. No countries, even the most democratic ones, allow that,” Ouf added.

“We just need to grant foreign-based Egyptians the right to vote in any referendums and presidential elections.”

The date of Egypt’s first presidential elections following January’s revolution remains unclear. Some analysts suggest that it may be held in early 2013 following the drafting of a new constitution, which could take up to one year.

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