Egypt's Prime Minister Essam Sharaf (Photo: Reuters)
Prime Minister Essam Sharaf held a meeting on Sunday morning with members of his cabinet to discuss a recent recommendation by the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) to allow Egyptians living abroad to vote in national elections. The government is expected to soon issue a decree permitting Egyptian expatriates to cast ballots in upcoming presidential elections slated for sometime next year.
At the meeting, Sharaf reportedly discussed the issue with the ministers of foreign affairs, justice, the interior, tourism, culture, manpower, information, telecommunications, and international cooperation, along with Higher Elections Committee Chairman Ali El-Salmi.
Along with presidential elections, say informed sources, Egyptian expatriates will also be granted the right to vote in popular referendums, such as those expected to be held on constitutional changes. They will not, however, be permitted to vote in upcoming parliamentary polls scheduled for later this year, due to difficulties involved in classifying expatriates’ respective electoral districts.
Political activists, along with some would-be presidential candidates such as Mohamed ElBaradei, have repeatedly called for Egyptians abroad to be granted the right to vote. Egyptian expats in a number of countries have already launched a “Right to Vote” campaign aimed at raising awareness about the issue.
According to official estimates, some 5 million Egyptians currently live and work overseas.