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Results for Egypt’s expat voting Friday; U.S. group to send 22 monitors to polls

Results of the voting for expatriates in Egypt’s first post-Mubarak presidential elections are expected to be announced on Friday, the Supreme Presidential Election Commission (SPEC) announced, as Washington said that Cairo has given the green light to a U.S. NGO to send 22 observers to monitor the polls next week.
 
If necessary, run-off voting for expats is set to take place between June 3 and 9. Voting inside Egypt will take place on May 23-24. A wall sprayed with graffiti ear Tahrir Square in downtown Cairo. ReutersA wall sprayed with graffiti ear Tahrir Square in downtown Cairo. Reuters
 
According to the commission figures, as many as 587,000 Egyptian expatriates in 166 countries have registered to vote in the first post-revolution election. 
 
The Gulf states of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates had the highest number of voters, followed by Qatar, U.S. and Canada.
 
The first round takes place on May 23 and 24, with about 50 million of Egypt's 82 million population eligible to vote. According to the official schedule, counting will be completed on May 26, followed by a period when appeals will be heard. The first-round result will be formally announced on May 29.
 
If any candidate achieves more than 50 percent of the votes in the first leg, he wins outright. That seems unlikely given the spread of candidates, so a run-off between the top two vote getters is expected to go ahead on June 16 and 17, with the result out on June 21, according to Reuters.
 
Thirteen candidates entered the race after 10 people were disqualified by the election committee for failing to meet requirements. There are now 12 in the race after one withdrew.
 
The main contenders are the Muslim Brotherhood member Mohammed Mursi, the liberal former Arab League chief Amr Moussa, who is one of the best known names in the race, Islamist candidate Abdul Moniem Abul Fotouh who has appealed to voters ranging from liberals to ultra-orthodox Salafi Muslims, and Ahmed Shafiq, a former air force commander, aviation minister and, in the final days of Mubarak’s rule, prime minister. Most other candidates are viewed as well down the field, although leftist candidate Hamdeen Sabahy has been gaining popularity with his down-to-earth style.
 
Meanwhile, the Atlanta-based Carter Center has the green light to send 22 observers to monitor Egypt’s presidential election next week, the U.S. State Department said Thursday.
 
“The Carter Center has received accreditation as one of the organizations that will witness the election by Egypt’s Supreme Presidential Election Commission,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said, according to AFP.
 
She said the 22 observers from 14 countries will “join in total an 80-person witness delegation covering 35 countries and they will be there for several days before the election and through the election,” Nuland told reporters.
 
The Carter Center is a non-governmental organization founded by former U.S. president and Nobel laureate Jimmy Carter to advance human rights. It monitors elections worldwide, including several in Africa.
 
Mubarak, who was in power for three decades, was for most of that time voted to office via single-candidate referendums -- only his name was on the list and Egyptians voted ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Very few bothered to turn up. 
 
In 2005, under U.S. pressure to open up, Egypt staged a multi-candidate election but the rules made it impossible for anyone to stage a realistic challenge. 
 
The vote itself was littered with abuses and the result, to no one’s surprise, was a sweeping victory for Mubarak. He would have faced another election in 2011, when many wondered if his son Gamal would stand. But a mass uprising ended Mubarak’s rule in February of last year.

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