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Egyptians abroad cast ballots on disputed draft constitution

Egypt's official news agency says the Islamist government has begun to hold a highly contentious referendum on a draft constitution, with embassies around the world opening their doors to expatriate voters.

The vote shows the determination of President Mohammed Morsi to go forward with the process despite fierce opposition from liberals, secularists, Christians and others.

The Middle East News Agency said Wednesday that nearly a half million Egyptian expatriates have up until Saturday to cast ballots in 150 diplomatic mission.

The full vote was initially scheduled to take place on Dec. 15, but in a last minute Tuesday decree, Morsi ordered the voting stretched into another round on Dec. 22 due. A boycott by the powerful judges' union has led to a shortage of judges to supervise the vote.