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Heavy Turnout as Egyptian Expatriates Vote on Constitutional Amendments

Heavy Turnout as Egyptian Expatriates Vote on Constitutional Amendments

Saturday, 20 April, 2019 - 05:30
Egyptian expatriates vote in a referendum on constitutional amendments. (Reuters)
Cairo, Riyadh – Walid Abulrahma and Saleh al-Zayed
Egyptian expatriates cast their votes on Friday in a referendum on constitutional amendments that extend President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi’s term.

The voting at Egyptian embassies and consulates in 124 countries started at 9:00 am and ended at 9:00 pm. Some 9 million Egyptians reside abroad.

Heavy turnout was reported in Saudi Arabia with Egyptian Ambassador in Riyadh Nasser Hamdy telling Asharq Al-Awsat that expatriates from throughout the Kingdom took part in the vote to “build Egypt.”

He called on all Egyptian expatriates in Saudi Arabia to participate heavily in practicing their constitutional right.

He praised Saudi authorities for their organization of the voting process to ensure its success.

Besides the Kingdom, the Egyptian Ministry of Emigration said that heavy turnout was also witnessed in the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Jordan, Australia, France, the Netherlands, Britain, the United States, Ethiopia, Chad and Cameroon.

The vote running from April 20-22 was officially announced on Wednesday, a day after parliament overwhelmingly approved the changes extending presidential terms from four to six years.

The amendments would prolong Sisi's current term to 2024 from 2022 and allow him to then run for another six-year term.

They would also grant the president new powers over the appointment of judicial officials, bolster the role of the military and create an upper parliamentary chamber.

Egypt’s 596-member parliament, which is dominated by Sisi supporters, voted 531 to 22 in favor of the amendments.

Sisi won his first term as president in 2014 and was re-elected in March 2018.

Banners and billboards have gone up across the capital Cairo in the past weeks urging people to take part.

MP Mohamed Abu-Hamed, who pushed for the constitutional amendments to keep Sisi in power, said the changes are needed to allow the president to complete political and economic reforms.

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