Securing expat voting is SCAF’s responsibility, says commission

Allowing Egyptians living abroad to cast their ballots in the upcoming parliamentary elections is the responsibility of the ruling Supreme Council for the Armed Forces (SCAF), the High Elections Commission said on Thursday.

The Supreme Administrative Court ruled on Thursday that the millions of Egyptian expatriates have the right to vote in the coming elections at the various diplomatic delegations in their respective countries.

The court's decision necessitates adjusting again the electoral and parliamentary laws amended in July, which addressed political rights, the size of the future parliament and the division of electoral districts, said counselor Yousry Abdel Karim, head of the technical office at the High Elections Commission.

The first article of the Law on the Exercise of Political Rights issued by the SCAF in July recognizes that Egyptians have equal access to their political rights, including the right to vote, despite where they live. The Higher Election Commission itself does not have the right to amend the laws through addition or deletion, said Abdel Karim in press briefings on Thursday.

Legal amendments are currently the SCAF's responsibility, as it is the sole legislative authority, Abdel Karim said. He rejected comments describing the commission as an obstacle to expatriates voting in the coming elections.

Presidential hopeful Mohamed ElBaradei demanded on Wednesday that the Supreme Administrative Court's ruling be put into effect before the parliamentary elections slated to begin on 28 November.

The elections will be illegitimate if they are held before the court ruling takes effect, ElBaradei tweeted.

Many diplomats and political experts announced their support for the ruling, while differing on the likelihood of it working and the mechanisms required.

Ambassador Mohamed al-Dirghamy, the former assistant foreign minister for consular affairs and Egyptians abroad, said the Foreign Ministry is prepared to process expatriate voting as soon as it is instructed to do so.

Deputy Chairman of the Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies Waleed Abdel Maguid said Egyptians abroad “will vote in the next presidential election, not the upcoming parliamentary elections, due to the difficulty in putting the court ruling into effect.”

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