May 27th, 2007 by Editor
The free elections are considered a main guarantee of the democratic system and a confirmation for individual’s right to manage the public affair , and even a key element for practicing the authority .Also the honest elections are considered a victory for people’s will who choose their representatives freely the matter which leads us to strengthen the process of democracy . So monitoring elections are considered an indispensable target .
Monitoring elections are a significant process especially in such countries where they undergo the democratic transition as the formal institutions are not trustable and people need further measures to confirm the righteous of elections . This monitoring leads to this target as it plays a great role in creating an atmosphere Of trust and confidence on the integrity of the electoral process and its results.
The process of monitoring depends on a set of international covenants concerned with human rights ratified by most of world countries . Article 21 of the universal declaration of human rights stipulates the following :
1. “Every body has the right to participate in the management of his country’s public affair either directly or through freely chosen representatives .
2. “Every body -equally with others- has the right to take charge of the public positions in his country .
3. “people’s will is the basis of rule . This shall be expressed through genuine periodic elections with universal suffrage and free vote .
Also Article 25 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights stipulated the following :-
1. “Every citizen should get the opportunity to enjoy these rights without unreasonable restrictions.
2. Citizen is allowed to elect or being elected in a righteous election through genuine periodic elections with universal suffrage and free vote .
3. Citizen should be given the opportunity to take charge of public affairs in his country .
In fact , the process of monitoring elections is adopted by private organizations and agencies with experience in monitoring and issuing reports. These reports are approved by the state and work with its consent and cooperation with government officials in an integrated regulatory framework that leads to the activation of the principle of transparency in the society . Each constituency has one determined observer who has the right to monitor the election internally or externally without the interference in the work of chairman of the Poll Station or its members because his work is limited to personal observation .This observer submit a report to the side which charged him to collect monitoring reports and issuing comprehensive reports about elections from the start declaration until the results .
In this regard , civil society organizations including the Egyptian organization for Human Rights take care of monitoring elections and violations occurred during the electoral process .Human rights organizations are not a part to any political activities for political parties or other candidates and did not fall In the competition for the benefit of a particular party or specific candidate , however their work are limited to monitoring elections and ensuring the honesty of the process .
In addition , EOHR issued a report entitled “The Candidacy of semi- renewal elections for Shura Council ………… restrictions and violations “which monitors and documents violations that marred the process of Shura Council elections moving forward from EOHR’s vision to be responsible for all violations occurred from the start of electoral process .
This report is divided into :
First : the regulations rules of Shura Council elections.
Second : violations monitored by EOHR during the electoral process .
Third: the experience of EOHR to monitor the elections.
First : the regulations rules of Shura Council elections.
The supreme committee for elections issued the regulations rules for general committees and sub-committees for Shura Council elections as follows:
1- The process of elections starts at 8:00 am until 7:00 pm and if there are voters at the premises of poll stations after the end of polling period , the committee will edit a list of their names and the process of elections is continued pending the completion of voting .
2- Each candidate has the right to assign a member among voters to represent him in the General Committee and another member in the Sub Committee . The candidate has to inform the committee’s chairman with the two members in the previous day of voting .
3- If the two delegates didn’t come in the specific appointment (before half an hour from the beginning of the electoral process ) ,the chairman of the committee would complete this number from the existed voters who can read and write and whose names are included in the committee range .
4- The chairman of the General Committee for elections signs on the voting card that the voter gave his voice to the candidate. The Secretary of the Committee has to sign before the name of each voter in the voting list . voters are not allowed to give their voice more than one times in a single election or referendum .
5- The head of the Higher Committee for Elections issues a decision to form the count votes committees head by him or head by one member of General Committee and two members from Sub-Committees . These committees are supervised by the secretary of General Committee and counting votes is occurred under the supervision of the General Committee in the presence of the head of each Sub-Committee during the counting of votes .
6- The head of the General Committee for elections declares the outcomes of elections or referendum and the number of votes obtained by each candidate in his constituency . The head of General Committee and the secretary of General Committee sign on 3 copies of the sessions minutes . One of these copies sent with all papers of elections or referendum to the Minister of Interior and one copy to the Higher Committee for elections and the last copy to the Security Directorate .
7- The committee will receive the outcome minutes of elections and referendum on the level of the republic and the technical secretary will gather the results to the committee to declare the results .
8- People’s Assembly and Shura council elections are carried out in one day under the supervision of the committee as the committee sets the general rules of electoral propaganda which include prohibition of the use of slogans or symbols related to religious or has a religious nature, or because of segregation on the basis of sex Or origin.
9. The Committee shall establish and administer the system of election symbols
for political parties concerning their candidates and other independent
The committee will receive complaints related to any violations
occurred against the rules which organize the electoral process .
10. The Secretariat – general of the Committee in coordination with the
11. The Secretariat –general for Studies and Researches related to projects committee prepares bills concerning elections ,then it submit these bills to the committee to take the necessary actions and establishes rules and procedures for the participation of Egyptian civil society organizations in observing the polling and counting process.
competent authorities discuss and propose rules and ways to inform and
educate voters and candidates in all aspects of the electoral process .
12. The electoral symbols are assigned to political parties candidates according to their desire .If there is a refusal to the electoral symbol , the priority will be for the party that used the same symbol in the election in the previous five years . In the absence of this condition , the priority will be for the party that has the highest representative in the parliament and if there is equality between some parties ,drawing lots is the last solution to choose in the presence of representatives of competing parties.
Second: violations monitored by EOHR during the elections of the Shura Council .
In this regard, EOHR monitored violations during the period of candidacy for semi-renewal elections for Shura Council as follows :-
1. Mr. Minister of Interior alone sets a date to accept requests for candidacy for the election of semi-renewal for Shura council from 16/5/2007 until Sunday 20/5/2007 and declaring the numbers of electoral constituencies .The Minister of Interior is alone with determining the appointments of opening the door of candidacy in a complete absence of the Supreme Committee for elections which was formed according to the presidential decision No.158 / 2007 under the rule of law no. 73 /1956.
2. Observers of civil society organizations were prevented to enter Poll Stations .
3. In Alexandria governorate , security forces surrounded the headquarters of Alexandria security Directorate at Somoha area and prevented candidates from submitting the candidature papers, the matter which made Muslim Brotherhood candidates to bring suit before Administrative Judiciary Court which issued a decision for the interest of Muslim Brotherhood candidates to include their names in candidates’ lists and stop the negative decision of the committee which rejects their candidature papers .
4. In El Monofia governorate ,Abdul Mohsen El Semary , citizen ,was exposed to abuse and clothes tearing and his private candidacy papers were seized when he was in El Monofia security Directorate to submit the papers of his representative.
5. As for El Gharbia governorate, security forces siege the headquarters of El Gharbia security directorate and prevented citizens to submit candidacy papers the matter which made Mr.Khaled Hassan Shalash , citizen to bring suit No.6701 before the Administrative Judiciary Court , the court decided to accept the suit formally . In Kafr El Zaiat constituency , candidacy papers of Hamzy Sabry , citizen , was rejected and he was arrested and confined to 24 hours .
6. In El Behira governorate ,Mr. Tarek Hashad , lawyer , prosecuted before the Administrative Judiciary Court at Alexandria to list his name in the candidacy lists for Shura Council elections 2007.
7. In Fayoum governorate , Adel Roby Abdul Gawad ,Snors and Abshway constituencies and Mosaad Mahmoud Mosaad from Atsah constituency were summoned by the State Security Investigation to turn them aside from candidacy for Shura elections .
In this regard , we can say that most violations which are monitored by EOHR are the intransigence of security directorates to accept papers of candidacy for election and the prevention of some candidates to stand for election the matter which made the High Committee for election to issue a decision which force security directorate to accept all applications of candidacy for Shura elections and the competent committees will undertake and check these applications according to the rules of law .
The committee is – even if it allows the civil society organizations to monitor election from inside or outside committees – not setting rules for organizing the role of monitoring . The committee decided to assign The electoral symbols to political parties candidates according to their desire .If there is a refusal to the electoral symbol , the priority will be for the party that used the same symbol in the election in the previous five years . In the absence of this condition , the priority will be for the party that has the highest representative in the parliament and if there is equality between some parties ,drawing lots is the last solution to choose in the presence of representatives of competing parties. By this decision , the committee makes sure to assign the crescent symbol (Al HELAL) and camel symbol (Al Gamal) to the National Democratic Party .
Third: EOHR’s experience in monitoring elections
EOHR monitored legislative elections from 1995 to 2005 and monitored the presidential election 2005 and the referendum on constitutional amendments in 2007 . In 1995 legislative elections were monitored as a committee was established and included 6 civilian bodies supported by opposition parties . This committee is named the Egyptian Committee For Monitoring Elections . This committee monitored the electoral process in 88 electoral constituencies in the first two rounds on 29/11/1995 and the second on 6/12/1995 besides the prior electoral campaigns . At the end of the electoral process , the committee issued a common report including an assessment of the electoral process since its inception until its end.
.This report monitored several violations including defectives in the electoral voters lists , the unequal use of media among (National democratic party) NDP’s candidates and opposition , using money and governmental power and preventing conferences and marches for opposition . Also EOHR monitored the legislative elections 2000 which started on 18/10/2000 and discovered a set of violations including the security intervention .
In 2005 civil society organizations requested to monitor the elections as they always call ,however they receive rejection from government . The Supreme Committee For Elections refused the monitoring of civil society organizations in elections the matter which inspired numbers of civil society organizations including EOHR to prosecute before the administrative judiciary court to appeal on the negative decision of the supreme committee.
The administrative court issued its decision on 6th of November for the benefit of civil society to monitor the elections independently . The decision confirmed that judiciary’s monitoring on the elections doesn’t conflict with the role of civil society in the electoral process . Although this decision was issued ,the Administrative Court canceled this decision on the bases of fortifying the decisions of Supreme Committee for Elections against appeal .So the presidential election was monitored from outside the Poll Stations while judges allow some observers to monitor from inside . Before parliamentary elections ,debate was returned back concerning the right of civil society organizations to monitor elections from inside the Poll Stations until the Supreme Committee for elections agreed to let these organizations to monitor the process from inside.
EOHR observed several violations during this election including the intervention of security bodies , closing the electoral Poll Stations before voters , increasing frequency of acts of violence and hooliganism , the mistakes of the electoral rolls, the spread of the phenomenon of buying votes, the abuse of electoral observers and journalists, The use of public money.
In this context, EOHR formed coalition in collaboration with some civil society organizations to monitor elections . This coalition monitored the referendum of constitutional amendments and observed several violations including the closure of the poll stations before voters and preventing civil society observers from entering poll stations.
Fourth: Recommendations :
In this regard , EOHR calls for a set of recommendations as follows :
1- canceling all restrictions imposed on the establishment of political parties and respecting civil and political rights .Also ,canceling all special laws which restrict freedoms such as Emergency Law and the necessary for amending the penal code and criminal procedures law related to electoral crimes .
2- The necessary for enacting a new law concerning political rights instead of Law No. 73 of 1956 modified by Law No.173 of 2005 .This law should include judicial committee named “ High Committee for elections “ and its premises is in Cairo . This committee has the full supervision over elections and referendum management . The committee is formed by 9 members including 3 judges from high courts ( Cassation , Appeal ,High Administrative Court) . Judges are being elected from general assemblies for these courts without the intervention of the minister of justice .This committee is headed by the oldest member and the membership is not including members of the public prosecution or deputized judges for administrative positions .The period of this committee lasts for 6 years and undertakes all stages of electoral process .
3- supporting the idea of political participation for the wide section of citizens as this participation is considered one of the main base for democracy .
4- The necessary for controlling the administrative intervention in elections through setting a legislation that prevent the local administration to participate in the electoral process .
5- Executing judiciary decisions specially the administrative judiciary related to the respect of the issued decisions in elections’ appeal and candidacy ,etc.
6- the necessary for issuing a legislation that organizes the monitored job of civil society organizations inside poll stations and outside .
7- Establishing a judicial police body related directly to the judiciary power to protect judges and voters and ensuring the non- intervention of security bodies in the electoral process .
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