Just over a year ago, Egyptians living abroad voted in a referendum on a new constitution put forward by an elected Muslim Brotherhood-led government, which was ousted by the army last July following a period of violent unrest. Starting on January 8, thousands of people are expected to visit Egyptian embassies worldwide to cast ballots on another draft constitution. This one is supported by Egypt’s military-backed interim government, which – by banning Islamist parties and scrapping parts of the former government’s legislation – reflects the shift in power in Egypt. Expatriates will be able to vote until January 12, ahead of the referendum at home which is slated for January 14-15. “It’s essential that everyone votes in this referendum, whatever their vote may be,” said Sabry Fahmy, an Egyptian who lives in Doha, Qatar. “Whether it’s in favour of or against the constitution, your vote must be made. For us abroad, taking part in these polls has been one of our main gains from this saga.” About 2.7 million Egyptians live outside the country, according to the International Organisation on Migration, but other reports peg the figure far higher – closer to eight million.
Egypt’s political transition was pitched into uncertainty on Sunday when a draft constitution was amended to allow a presidential election to be held before parliamentary polls, indicating a potential change in the army’s roadmap. The roadmap unveiled when Islamist President Mohamed Morsi was ousted in July said a parliamentary election should take place before the presidential one. But the draft finalized on Sunday by the 50-member constituent assembly avoids saying which vote should happen first, leaving the decision up to President Adly Mansour. “Now we have approved the draft,” Amr Mussa, the head of the 50-member constitution-drafting panel, announced on live television. “The draft will be given to (interim president) Adly Mansour on Tuesday,” he said, adding: “Long live Egypt.” The draft also says the “election procedures” must start within six months of the constitution’s ratification, meaning Egypt may not have an elected president and parliament until the second half of next year.
Officials have begun recounting votes and tallying absentee ballots in elections in Libya. Meanwhile, a rights group says militias still hold 5,000 detainees, despite a deadline to transfer prisoners for trial. Libya’s election commission has announced that it is also reviewing appeals lodged by candidates after the release of partial results over the past week. The full results of Libya’s first free nationwide vote, on July 7, had been expected as early as Saturday. Now, the election commission chief says the full official results may finally be announced on Monday.
Libya: Libyans vote in 1st nationwide election in decades but violence underscores challenges ahead | The Washington Post
Jubilant Libyans chose a new parliament Saturday in their first nationwide vote in decades, but violence and protests in the restive east underscored the challenges ahead as the oil-rich North African nation struggles to restore stability after last year’s ouster of longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi. Women ululated, while men distributed sweets and the elderly with canes or wheelchairs struggled to get to polling centers in a show of joy over the most visible step toward democracy since the eccentric ruler was killed by rebel forces in late October after months of bitter civil war. “Look at the lines. Everyone came of his and her own free will. I knew this day would come and Gadhafi would not be there forever,” said Riyadh al-Alagy, a 50-year-old civil servant in Tripoli. “He left us a nation with a distorted mind, a police state with no institutions. We want to start from zero.”
Abdel-Hakim Belhaj is a former rebel commander and a jihadist who once fought the Russians in Afghanistan. More recently, he has replaced his camouflaged fatigues with a business suit and founded an Islamist political party that is among the front-runners ahead of Saturday’s parliamentary election. It is the first significant step in Libya’s tumultuous transition toward democracy after more than 40 years under Muammar Qaddafi’s repressive rule. The campaign posters plastering the capital Tripoli are in sharp contrast to the decades in which Qaddafi banned political parties and considered democracy a form of tyranny. He governed with his political manifesto the “Green Book,” which laid out his vision for rule by the people but ultimately bestowed power in his hands alone. But Saturday’s election, in which 2.8 million Libyans are eligible to vote, follows a ruinous civil war that laid bare regional, tribal and ethnic conflicts and left the country divided nine months after Qaddafi was captured and killed by rebel forces in his home city of Sirte.
Algeria: Elections being called fairest in 2 decades, but little enthusiasm from voters | The Washington Post
As parliamentary elections unfolded across Algeria on Thursday, voting was light for much of day in the capital, despite these contests being billed the freest in 20 years. A coalition of Islamist parties is hoping to replicate the election successes of other Islamists across North Africa in the wake of the Arab Spring pro-democracy uprisings of 2011, but they face stiff competition from two government parties with deeply entrenched networks. President Abdelaziz Bouteflika spent the past several months urging Algerians to come out and vote, alternating promises of bold new reforms after elections with warnings that foreign powers might invade Algeria if there is a low turnout. No party is expected to dominate the parliament, though the real question will be if there is a substantial turnout. Just hours before the polls closed, the government put the participation rate at 35 percent, suggesting it will be more than in 2007, but not by much.
A panel of fundamentalist Islamic clerics on Wednesday endorsed the candidate of the Muslim Brotherhood for president of Egypt, an attempt to prevent a split of the conservative Muslim voters. In another twist, Egypt’s election commission late Wednesday reinstated a candidate, a former regime official it disqualified just a day earlier, scrambling the projected voting even more. The ultraconservative endorsement boosted the Brotherhood candidate, Mohammed Morsi, who faces competition in next month’s election from a more moderate Islamist, Abdel-Moneim Abolfotoh, who broke ranks with the group. Support for Morsi came from the Jurisprudence Commission for Rights and Reform, a panel of clerics mostly from the ultraconservative Salafis and new Islamist parties, but also including a Brotherhood member. The decision was announced at a news conference in Cairo.
More than 30 political parties and around 100 independent lists with a total of more than 10,000 candidates will compete for the 462 seats in the National People’s Assembly. As the Algerian Parliament that comes out of next legislative elections in May 10 will have 73 additional seats, passing from today’s 389 to 462, what is new in the Algerian political landscape ,it is considered to be a harbinger to constituent assembly demanded by opposition parties. The Algerian government which explains the increasing in number of Parliament’s seats by the will to reinforce women’s presence in parliament is far of being credible among the civil society for its way of ruling the country. This may lead to the possibility of Islamist election victory as was the case in 1991. Concern among some politicians and political experts over the capacity of Islamists to grab the majority of seats in the next assembly are currently mounting in Algeria that could seemingly be contaminated by the Tunisian and Egyptian syndrome. Following in the footsteps of their fellow Islamists, in Tunisia, Egypt and Morocco, three Algerian Islamist parties, the Movement of Society for Peace (MSP), El Islah and Ennahda, decided to officially form a new coalition called “Alliance of green Algeria.”
Kuwait’s Islamist-led opposition has won a landslide majority in snap polls, securing 34 seats in the 50-member parliament, officials results showed. The snap polls were held after the ruler of the oil-rich Gulf state dissolved parliament following youth-led protests in December over alleged corruption and bitter disputes between opposition MPs and the government. Sunni Islamists took 23 seats compared with just nine in the dissolved parliament, while liberals were the big losers, winning only two places against five previously. No women were elected, with the four female MPs of the previous parliament all losing their seats.