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Egyptians abroad start voting in charter referendum

Banners reading in Arabic "do what is right", "participation is a responsibility", to urge Egyptians to participate in an upcoming referendum for the constitutional amendments, hang in Tahrir Square in Cairo on 8 April 2019. [MOHAMED EL-SHAHED/AFP/Getty Images]
Banners reading in Arabic "do what is right", "participation is a responsibility", to urge Egyptians to participate in an upcoming referendum for the constitutional amendments, hang in Tahrir Square in Cairo on 8 April 2019. [MOHAMED EL-SHAHED/AFP/Getty Images]

Egyptian expatriates on Friday started voting in a referendum on proposed constitutional changes that would extend incumbent president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s term until 2030, Anadolu reports.

The voting process began first in New Zealand as the Egyptian Embassy in Wellington opened its doors for voters, state-run MENA News Agency reported, citing a Foreign Ministry statement.

Some140 poll centres at embassies and consulates in 124 countries are conducting the voting process from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. local time, Foreign Ministry said on Thursday, without elaborating on the number of Egyptians eligible to vote abroad.

However, voting will not be conducted in Yemen, Libya, Syria and Somalia due to security concerns, according to Egypt’s National Elections Authority.

READ: Egypt ramps up security ahead of constitution poll 

Local voting is slated for Saturday in which 61.34 million citizens across the country are eligible to cast their votes.

Earlier this week, Egypt’s parliament approved a proposed constitutional amendment extending the duration of presidential terms from four to six years.

It will also allow al-Sisi to eventually run for a third term in office.

Egypt’s current constitution, ratified in 2014, allows the president to hold office for a maximum of two four-year terms.

The constitutional change, however, means al-Sisi’s second term in office — which he secured in elections last year — will end in 2024, after which he will be allowed to run for a third six-year term ending in 2030.

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