Egypt's largest Islamist coalition has urged Egyptian expats to boycott the presidential vote, which started overseas on Thursday, and called for a week of peaceful protests against the elections slated for 26-27 May inside the country.
In a statement released on Thursday under the slogan "Boycott the presidency of bloodshed," the National Alliance to Support Legitimacy (NASL) said the protests are a continuation of what it described as the revolutionary momentum that thwarted Egypt's transitional roadmap.
Compared to the constitutional referendum held during deposed Islamist president Mohamed Morsi's rule, Egyptians came out in considerably larger numbers in January to vote on the constitutional amendments to the national charter – part of the roadmap.
The Muslim Brotherhood-led coalition insists ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi remains the legitimate president. The group describes Morsi – who faces multiple trials on charges including murder and espionage – as the "kidnapped president".
Despite the dwindling numbers of Morsi supporters in street protests – now mainly confined to some Egyptian universities – the NASL consistently claims the momentum of demonstrations is unscathed.
Egypt's foreign ministry said initial indicators from Australia and the Gulf states show a huge turnout of voters lining in long queues to cast their ballots.
Thursday's vote also includes Britain, France, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Sudan. Expat voting is to end on 18 May.
Egyptians must choose between former army chief Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi -- who led the army's ouster of Morsi after mass protests against the Islamist president in July -- and prominent leftist politician and former presidential candidate Hamdeen Sabahi.