Egyptian expats start voting in Senate elections by mail

Egyptian expats start voting in Senate elections by mail
Egyptian parliament members attend a general session in the capital Cairo on July 20, 2020. (AFP)
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Updated 10 August 2020

Egyptian expats start voting in Senate elections by mail

Egyptian expats start voting in Senate elections by mail
  • Voters use apps and websites to cast postal votes amid coronavirus pandemic

CAIRO: Egyptian expatriates began voting in Senate elections on Sunday to choose their representatives in the newly created council.

Voting started at 9 a.m. New Zealand time, the country being the first to vote in the elections. It was followed by Australia, Europe, Asia, and the Americas. Voting ends on Monday in accordance with each country’s local time.

Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ahmed Hafez said in a statement that Egyptian expatriates have started voting in the Senate elections. He added that those who are eligible to vote registered their names on the official website of the National Elections Authority (NEA) during the set period from July 25 to 31.

Voters are unable by law to cast their ballots in the headquarters of diplomatic missions in any country, Hafez said. He added that only votes sent through post to diplomatic missions will be eligible. The measure is a safety precaution and also ensures public order, he said.

Hafez added that a central operation room was set up to monitor the electoral process outside Egypt and to answer questions and respond to complaints regarding voting.

Overseas Egyptian missions have coordinated with government post offices in accredited countries to distribute voting ballots and receive letters till Aug. 12 in accordance with the time limit and preventive measures set out by the NEA for the elections. Hafez said committees were set up in 140 polling stations across 124 countries.

SPEEDREAD

Voters in overseas Egyptian missions use apps and websites to cast postal votes amid coronavirus pandemic.

Minister of Immigration and Expatriates Affairs Ambassador Nabila Makram underlined the importance of following the Kallem Masr mobile app for Egyptian expats, created by the ministry. She said the app helps expats during the voting process by providing the address of polling stations and Egyptian consulates around the world. She added that expats are performing their constitutional right through mail for the first time ever.

The ministry has posted videos providing information regarding the voting process for Egyptian expats on all the ministry’s social media platforms, she said. She added that interactive posters and important links were also posted on the NEA official website.

Makram said: “Egyptian expats always play a significant role in constitutional rights. They never hesitate to perform their national duty. Now we are going through another constitutional right for Egyptians abroad through which they can elect the members of the Egyptian Senate, which is important to form in the current period.”

Hossam El-Kholy, vice-president of the Mostaqbal Watan Party, said the Senate plays an important role in drafting legislation before referral to the House of Representatives.

“If the political leadership had decided not to conduct the Senate elections at this time no one would have said anything, no one would have objected. So why now? Because the state wants it. Because the citizens want it. Because it plays a role,” he added.

President of the Arab Council for Human Rights Abdel Gawwad Ahmed said the council is monitoring Egyptian expat voting through a network of volunteers in Europe, the Americas and Arab countries.

He said technology helps to observe the electoral process minute by minute.

Meanwhile, NEA President Councilor Lasheen Ibrahim said the NEA is considering introducing a 500 Egyptian pound ($31) fine for citizens who fail to vote in the Senate elections without a sufficient reason.

 


Foreign forces ignore UN’s Libya exit deadline under fragile truce

Foreign forces ignore UN’s Libya exit deadline under fragile truce
In this file photo taken on November 19, 2020, a Libyan stands in front of a school, which was damaged during fighting between rival factions, in the capital Tripoli's suburb of Ain Zara. (AFP)
Updated 24 January 2021

Foreign forces ignore UN’s Libya exit deadline under fragile truce

Foreign forces ignore UN’s Libya exit deadline under fragile truce
  • Ankara and Moscow appear intent on defending their interests under any final settlement

TRIPOLI: Foreign forces ignored a deadline to pull out of Libya as scheduled on Saturday under a UN-backed cease-fire deal, highlighting the fragility of peace efforts after a decade of conflict.

Satellite images broadcast by CNN show a trench running tens of kilometers dug by “Russian mercenaries” near the frontline coastal city of Sirte, as main foreign protagonists Ankara and Moscow appear intent on defending their interests under any final settlement.
An unidentified US intelligence official, quoted by the American news network, said there was “no intent or movement by either Turkish or Russian forces to abide by the UN-brokered agreement.”
“This has the potential to derail an already fragile peace process and cease-fire. It will be a really difficult year ahead,” he said.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Monday urged all “regional and international actors to respect the provisions” of the Oct. 23 cease-fire accord that set out a withdrawal within three months of all foreign troops and mercenaries.
That deadline passed on Saturday, with no movement announced or observed on the ground.
The UN estimates there are still some 20,000 foreign troops and mercenaries in Libya helping the warring factions, the UN-recognized Government of National Accord in Tripoli and military strongman Khalifa Haftar in the east. The GNA has received military support from Turkey. Haftar has the backing of Russia.
Guterres called on all parties to implement the terms of the cease-fire “without delay,” something he noted “includes ensuring the departure of all foreign fighters and mercenaries from Libya, and the full and unconditional respect of the Security Council arms embargo,” which has been in place since the 2011 NATO-backed uprising that ousted and killed longtime ruler Muammar Qaddafi.

HIGHLIGHT

The UN estimates there are still some 20,000 foreign troops and mercenaries in Libya helping the warring factions.

Any withdrawal or end to foreign interference “does not depend on the Libyans but on the outside powers,” said Khaled Al-Montasser, professor of international relations at Tripoli University.
Turkey on Friday welcomed a deal reached at UN-backed talks for Libya’s warring factions to set up an interim executive to rule the North African country until polls in December.
Turkey has backed the GNA with military advisers, materiel and mercenaries, repelling an advance on Tripoli by Haftar’s forces, and it also has a military base in Al-Watiya on the border with Tunisia under a 2019 military accord.
Last December, parliament in Ankara extended by 18 months its authorization for Turkey’s troop deployment in Libya, in apparent disregard of the cease-fire deal.
“The mercenaries are unlikely to leave Libya so long as the countries which have engaged them have not guaranteed their interests in the new transitional phase,” said Montasser, referring to the multiple tracks of UN-sponsored talks currently underway.
“Their presence keeps alive the threat of military confrontation at any moment, while the current calm staying in place seems uncertain,” he said.
Most of the foreign forces are concentrated around Sirte, at Al-Jufra airbase held by Haftar’s forces 500 km south of Tripoli and further west in Al-Watiya.