Egyptians abroad face voting obstacles: Free Egyptians Party
Egyptians vote in a referendum on new constitution at the Egyptian embassy in Netherlands - YOUM7 (Archive)

CAIRO: Egyptians abroad often face obstacles when attempting to vote, which presents a problem as presidential elections draw near, members of the Free Egyptians Party said at a press conference on Monday, Youm7 reported.

The party held the conference to discuss the problems faced by Egyptians living abroad, which the General Union of Egyptians Abroad estimates to be 9.75 million citizens, MENA reported.

Nader el-Sharkawy, secretary general of Egyptians abroad affairs in the party, stressed the need to encourage Egyptians abroad to participate in all elections, Youm7 reported.

Participation is “an investment in their home country,” he said.

Samah Farrag, the founding member of the Egyptians Abroad Front, said she met the head of the Supreme Electoral Commission and asked him to allow Egyptians abroad use their national ID cards in the voting process instead of their passports.

Egyptians in the Gulf are not able to keep their passports, because their sponsors take them, which leaves them unable to vote, Youm7 reported.

Only 15 percent of Egyptians abroad eligible to vote participated in the January referendum, Ahram Online reported.

Deputy Foreign Minister Hamdy Loza told the MBC channel that Egyptians living abroad sent their votes in the mail to their designated embassies and councils, but the Supreme Electoral Commission eliminated mailed votes from the 2014 referendum, and is expected to do the same in the upcoming parliamentary and presidential elections.

This is a major problem for many Egyptians abroad living far from major cities where Egyptian embassies and councils are located, he said.

Advisor to the pprime minister for elections affairs, Major General Refaat Qomsan, told Ahram Online on Monday that the new presidential elections law would allow Egyptians abroad to cast their vote on polling days by using their national ID cards or computerized passports.

Additional reporting by Ibrahim Said and Ahmed Akram.

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