Majority of Egyptians abroad said ‘yes’ to constitution

More than 103,000 Egyptians abroad cast their ballots during five days of voting in the constitutional referendum, according to initial results from diplomatic missions worldwide, reported the state-owned Middle East News Agency (MENA).

Overseas voting on the constitutional draft ended at 9 pm local time on Sunday at Egyptian embassies around the world, after which the vote tallying began. Initial reports suggest that a majority voted “yes.”

Overall turnout was relatively low. Ambassadors blamed the low turnout on the government’s decision not to allow expat voters to cast their ballots by mail.  

Turnout was high in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates, while voter participation in the United States and Europe was “not bad,” said Hesham Mokhtar, the High Elections Commission spokesperson.

At least 681,000 Egyptians in 161 countries abroad are registered to vote, but there were only 138 designated polling stations in 127 countries, Mokhtar added.

In Saudi Arabia, 98 percent of Egyptians voted “yes” for the constitution, according to Afify Abdel Wahab, Egypt’s ambassador in Riyadh. From among 23,651 who participated in the referendum, about 23,011 voted “yes,” 474 voted “no,” and 166 ballots were void, MENA reported.

Abdel Kereem Suleiman, Egypt’s ambassador to Kuwait, said that more than 29,000 Egyptians cast ballots in the referendum, and counting would be finalized on Monday.

“The voting process was calm and peaceful, and voters were determined and excited,” he told MENA.

Egyptians in Jordan also voted to endorse the document, but turnout was low. Only 546 out of 4,291 registered voters participated in the referendum, of which 531 voted “yes” and 14 said “no.”

Ambassador Khaled Tharwat said that he had hoped for a higher turnout, but understands the obstacles Egyptians there faced, including “cold weather” and the burden of costly transportation from other cities to Amman.

“Some who were not registered tried to vote but were not allowed, as were those that did not have their national IDs or passports,” Tharwat told MENA.

Official figures put the number of Egyptians living in Jordan at 300,000, but informal numbers are much higher, he added.

In Tunis, 98.8 percent of the 80 Egyptian voters who participated in the referendum elected to endorse the new draft of the constitution, MENA reported. Apparently, only one voter said “no.” The number of registered voters there is low, at only 172.

Libya’s results were similar, with 96 percent voting in favor of the draft constitution.

Meanwhile, Egyptians came out to vote in unprecedented numbers in New York despite harsh winter weather conditions and long distances to travel to cast their ballots, Ambassador Ahmed Farouq told MENA.

In Washington DC, 95 percent of voters cast “yes” ballots.

On the other side of the US, 1,723 Egyptians voted “yes” for the constitution in Los Angeles, while only seven rejected the new draft. The turnout was low, however; 6,679 Egyptians are registered to vote there.

Overall results from European embassies show that more than 98 percent voted “yes,” MENA reported. Several ambassadors claimed that the turnout was double that of the last constitutional referendum held in December 2012 under deposed President Mohamed Morsi.

Only 1,576 Egyptians in London voted out of 6,777 registered voters, with the “yes” count at 97.3 percent, or 1,535 votes.

In Paris, 2,070 out of the 2,111 who voted endorsed the constitution. In Rome, 99 percent of the 721 votes were “yes,” while in Milan, the 98.8 percent of the 2,302 votes were in favor of the constitution. Results were similar in Brussels.

Ashraf al-Mowafy, Egypt’s ambassador to Norway and Iceland, said a majority there also voted “yes,” as did Egyptians in Russia, Holland, Finland and Estonia.

In Vienna, 98 percent voted “yes” out of a total 511 valid ballots. 

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