Fifteen months after the ouster of Hosni Mubarak, Egyptians overseas will go to the polls for a week from Friday to vote in a new president, amidst confusion whether the presidential elections will be suspended or not.
Around 60,000 out of more than 300,000 Egyptians living and working in the UAE are registered to cast absentee ballots in Egypt's embassy in Abu Dhabi and consulate in Dubai in the first free elections since Mubarak was ousted in February last year.
It is estimated that more than eight million Egyptians are working and living abroad, but nearly 600,000 are registered voters overseas.
On Wednesday, an Egyptian administrative court issued an unexpected ruling to suspend the presidential elections due later this month.
Courts in the Nile Delta cities of Benha and Minufiya said the first round scheduled for May 23 and 24 should not go ahead, as the law did not give the electoral commission chief powers to call the poll.
However, a legal source told Gulf News the ruling to suspend elections would be overturned, because the power to call the polls was delegated to the commission chief by the military ruler who exercises executive authority.
Presidential Election Commission Chairman Farouk Sultan said on Tuesday the election will be held on time, after concerns arose about the postponement of the elections following the commission's announcement to suspend its activities on Monday.
The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces headed by Field Marshal Hussain Tantawi, which took power when Mubarak was ousted, has repeatedly vowed to hand over to civilian rule once a president has been elected.
Ayman Mahmoud, an Egyptian engineer, said the right to vote was the first step towards claiming people's civil rights.
"Egyptians overseas have long been excluded and treated as second-class citizens, but now we are proud to have our voice heard. Now everybody feels his vote counts," Mahmoud said, expressing hope that the absentee voting process will be refined as time goes on.
Amal Mohammad, an Egyptrian housewife, said the historic court ruling that allowed Egyptians living abroad to vote in national elections was a victory for Egyptian expatriates, who for years had campaigned for the right to vote in parliamentary and presidential elections.
"It does not matter who wins, what matters is that Egyptians for the first time can choose their president in a free and fair election," Amal said when asked whom she will vote for.
The main candidates running include former Arab League chief Amr Mousa, Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohammad Morsi and former Brotherhood member Abdul Moneim Abu Al Fotouh.
UAE: Where to vote
Egypt's ambassador to the UAE, Tamer Mansour, said the missions will receive voters from 8am to 8pm, Friday to Thursday, with the embassy in the capital catering to Egyptians working and living in Abu Dhabi, Al Ain and the Western Region, while the Dubai consulate will oversee casting of ballots by voters in Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm Al Quwain, Ras Al Khaimah and Fujairah.