Egyptian expats will take part in a controversial constitutional referendum on Wednesday at 150 Egyptian embassies and 11 consulates around the world.
Analysts are expecting the vote to show many Egyptians not in favor of the referendum on a constitution drafted by an Islamist-dominated assembly and bitterly opposed by his mainly secular opponents.
An expat vote against the constitution would mirror government opposition forces over the past two weeks that a national debate on the draft of the constitution should have led the referendum.
An anonymous Egyptian told The Peninsula that he thinks “it’s too early to vote on whether we like or dislike the draft, eighty percent of the draft is really good, but the remaining 20 percent is controversial.”
“The draft gives the president the right to appoint all the members of the constitutional court. This is unprecedented and controversial. Even Hosni Mubarak (a reference to the former president) didn’t have that right. He could only nominate the head of the constitutional court.” he added.
The government is allowing Egyptians living abroad to vote at 150 Egyptian embassies and 11 consulates worldwide, officials said. As many as 586,000 expats are registered to vote in the referendum.
The voting will be held according to the local time of each country.
Egyptians in New Zealand’s capital Wellington will be the first to vote while those in Los Angeles, the U.S., will be the last.
Meanwhile, the referendum in Egypt is set for Dec. 15.
On Tuesday, Mursi amended a law so that voters cannot cast their ballots outside their electoral districts, as they had in the past. Being able to vote anywhere had been a convenience, a presidential statement said, but it creates a burden on electoral officials.
The opposition, made up of secular, liberal, leftwing and Christian groups, has said it will escalate its protests to scupper the referendum.
It views the new constitution, largely drawn up by Mursi’s Islamist allies, as undermining human rights, the rights of women, religious minorities, and curtailing the independence of the judiciary.
Mursi has defiantly pushed on with the draft charter, seeing it as necessary to secure democratic reform in the wake of Mubarak’s 30-year autocratic rule.