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Egypt PM Sharaf vows to put into effect expat voting

After a recent verdict to commit the government to conduct expatriate voting, Egypt's prime minister makes promises to 'eliminate obstacles' standing in the way of executing the decision

Nada Hussein Rashwan, Monday 31 Oct 2011
Egyptian expats see themselves as part of the 25 January revolution as many staged protests arround
Egyptian expats see themselves as part of the 25 January revolution as many staged protests arround the world in solidarity with Tahrir sit-in (Photo by:reuters)

Egyptian Prime Minister Essam Sharaf announced on his official Facebook page that the government will start an initiative to facilitate the process of expatriate voting in the upcoming parliamentary elections.

“Respecting the constitutional rights of all citizens is not up for discussion. God willing, we shall be able to overcome all legislative and executive obstacles standing in the way of the participation of Egyptians abroad in the elections. No matter the degree of difficulty of these procedures, it will be dwarfed in comparison to the noble goal of participation in elections,” reads the statement posted on Sharaf’s official Facebook page Monday morning.

There has been a degree of public scepticism around the response of Egypt’s ruling junta to the verdict, seeing a staggering push for expatriate voting rights that actually began just after the 25 January uprising deposed the long-standing president Mubarak.

Yesterday's demonstration on 30 October outside the Egyptian embassy in London, for example, highlights expatriate fears that the court order won’t be enacted. The Egyptians residing in London signed a petition, calling themselves the "25 January Egyptians in London" demanding polling stations at Egyptian embassies abroad.

Prime Minister Sharaf’s statement is meant to put at ease fears from Egyptians  living abroad that the verdict would be ignored and they wouldn’t get to vote, despite the Administrative Court’s ruling issued on 25 October.

Although the prime minister has taken a strong step to demonstrate the government’s cooperation with the ruling, in effect, the last word always belongs to the junta, known as the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF).

The verdict binds the government to facilitate the procedures for voting in Egyptian embassies and consulates abroad and extends voting to any future referenda.

Egyptians abroad are estimated to number between 8 and 11 million, making them a formidable voting power.

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