The first report of the “Egyptian coalition to monitor the elections”

November 2nd, 2010 by Editor

The legal, political and media environment for the Egyptian parliamentary elections- an evaluative vision

On the 2nd of November 2010, EOHR issued a report of 40 pages entitled “the legal, political and media environment for the Egyptian parliamentary elections- an evaluative vision”.

This report is a result of the coalition made between Egyptian Organization for Human Rights, Andalus Institute for Tolerance, CTUWS, the Egyptian Center for Women’s Rights and other 120 human rights and development organizations and associations, distributed over 26 provinces in northern and southern Egypt, called the “Egyptian coalition to monitor the elections”.

This report is categorized to four categories, which are:

  • 1) The political environment.
  • 2) The legislative environment.
  • 3) The legal restrictions that hinder the existence of fair and integer elections.
  • 4) The media environment.

The report of “the legal, political and media environment for the Egyptian parliamentary elections- an evaluative vision” comes out with a number of recommendations, which can be summarized as follows: 

The recommendations

Finally we can say that the parliamentarys’ elections for 2010 will be held in a restricted environment due to the emergency law?. Some of the articles are still being implemented since 1914 concerning the interdiction of peaceful assembly, and some other in force since 1923 concerning the interdiction of general meetings and demonstration from political parties, NGOs professional syndicates, as well as the step backwards in the freedom of expression, and the trials for limiting journalism. In this context the Egyptian coalition for elections recommends that:

Firstly: amending the law of exercising political rights no.73 for 1956, amended to law no.18 for 2007.

So as to enable the Egyptian NGOs to monitor elections inside and outside committees, in addition to that the process of counting shall be in public, enabling the candidates and their deputies to attend the counting of every box inside the poll station, and surrendering a copy of the result of counting list to the candidates and their deputies.

Amending the article no. 24, so as to add a paragraph to it, providing that a representative from NGOs will be able to exist in every general or sub-committee, and enabling this representative to enter in any committee during the voting process. Amending the article no. 27, by adding a statement saying that no one but the voters, the candidates, their deputies, and the representatives for the NGOs shall attend to the poll station, as well as prohibiting anybody holding weapon to attend. Amending the article no. 34, by adding a paragraph saying “and the representatives of the NGOs can attend the counting room.”

It is worth mentioning that EOHR proposed in 2005 a bill to substitute the ongoing law for Exercising Political Rights, and it was entitled “the law of the general elections and referendums”, which was adopted by a number of MPs.

Secondly: the adoption of the parliament and the high commission of elections to the bill proposed by EOHR for combating corruption took place during electoral campaigns; this bill did provide a lot of positives as:

  • 1- Defining the maximum expenditure of every candidate on the electoral campaign to be 10,000,000 in the first time, and 2,000,000 in case of repeating elections. And every candidate shall have a maximum fund from the government with 2% from this value in case of runoff elections (articles no.24, 25).
  • 2- The law legislate it to the candidate to accept the money and material donates from the political party which nominated him, as well as from the natural people, on condition that any donation shall not exceed 2% of the maximum level of expenditures provided during the electoral campaign
  • 3- There is a banning of any donations from any foreign side
  • 4- The law set rules for the expenditure process; it is obliged for the candidate to open a bank account with the national currency in one of banks determined by the electoral committee under the name of the electoral campaign. The candidate must inform the committee with the account number, the name of the bank and also the branch as he should deposit all donations and inform the committee day by day.
  • 5- As for the account value after the end of the electoral process, the committee will undertake the distribution of the rest of the balance to contributors.
  • 6- Setting rules to the parties receiving donations.
  • 7- Setting rules on the usage of public money
  • 8- The candidate according to the law has to submit a statement with funds he received and the expenditures to the presidential electoral committee during 15 days from the date of the election’s result.
  • 9- The Central auditing Organization undertakes the auditing of electoral campaigns for candidates.

10- The candidates are obliged to give back what he received to the state’s treasury in case of the non approval of the statement submitted by the candidate after hearing his speech.

Thirdly: As for the high committee for parliamentary elections , the Egyptian coalition recommended the following:

  • 1- Issuing a decision by the high commission for election on the rules and rights of observers including the existence before each general or sub poll station. The right to enter the poll station during the electoral process. Attending the counting room and announcing the results. Allowing the representative of civil society organization to register the notes on the electoral process in his private papers.
  • 2- The necessarily to set rules for security staff to not intervening in the electoral process and to set rules for implement the article 26 of the law on the exercise of political rights.
  • 3- Calling upon respecting the legal framework on spending money on propaganda which was determined by 200,000 EGP and announcing the proposed rules and a way to implement them and some penalties in case of violations.
  • 4- Having the High Committee for Parliamentary Elections (the High Committee) hold a set of procedures to ensure the implementation of certain articles in law number 73 for the year 1956 and their amendments specifically designed to deal with the punishment of rioters and bullies, the punishment of forcibly changing results in favor of one of the candidates, and attacking one of the boll stations.
  • 5- Amending the article 11 of law number 73 for the year 1956 to avoid the incidents of group voting by voters from outside the constituency.
  • 6- Focusing on the importance of organizing and facilitating the issuance of the candidate’s authorizations to both their deputies at the general and secondary committees and their deputies during the vote counting. The period specified for issuing the authorization, the procedures required for such issuance, and setting the rights and responsibilities of the deputies are all more affairs that need organizing and facilitation as well.
  • 7- Broadening the jurisdiction and scope of responsibility of the High Committee to include the supervision over all the election’s’ procedures starting preparing the electoral rolls and till announcing the results. Investigating the candidate’s complaints and ruling on the appeals pertaining to the electoral process, voting count procedures, and the validity of votes.
  • 8- Assigning one or more members of judicial institutions to each poll station to directly supervise the process of election and vote counting by the High Committee.

On the other hand, the Egyptian Coalition for Monitoring Elections (the Coalition) welcomes the rules of electoral propaganda specified by the High Committee, and demands that the “National Committee for the Supervision of Electoral Media and Propaganda” be formed to follow up on the level of commitment displayed by the candidates in regards to those rules. Such roles have been consistently demanded by human rights organizations within their reports concerning monitoring the elections. Within that framework, the Coalition recommends the formation of a national committee for the supervision of audio and visual media and printed publications provided it follows the High Committee. This committee shall follow up on the candidate’s compliance with the regulations pertaining the organization of electoral media and propaganda as set in the article 11 of People’s Assembly law number 38 for the year 1972 amended by law number 175 for the year 2005, and the regulations specified by the High Committee. The proposed committee shall also handle the immediate investigation in any complaints presented to it, and the ruling on such complaints in duration no longer than 72 hours from the date they are presented by the candidate in question. The committee shall recommend one of the following arrangements:

  • – Depriving the candidate from his/her right to appear on television or record on the radio or use his/her specified space in weekly printed publications.
  • – Discharge the candidates who violate those regulations and the rules of the people’s assembly laws or any other rules set by the High Committee.
  • – Enforcing the payment of a minimum 10,000 L.E for each candidate or list of candidates who have been harmed by another candidate. The High Committee shall ensure that the legal accountant of the candidates who commit such violations pays the compensation from the violating candidate or list of candidates’ accounts within 48-hour duration after the ruling of the High Committee is issued. This payment is considered to be within the maximum extent of expenses allowed for the candidate.
  • – Preparing a report on media and electoral propaganda throughout the electoral campaigns. The report should also document the violations of candidates or the list of candidates or the media outlets.

The committee shall include the vice president of the State Council, a representative of the media-oriented NGOs, a representative of the journalists syndicate, a representative of the cinema workers’ syndicate, a representative of the Ministry of Interior, as members. The committee could also use media experts or journalists for consultation. The committee shall be formed by a decision from the High Judiciary Council and should be headed by a judge from the Court of Cassation. The committee should follow the High Committee.

Fourthly:

Terminating the rule of the emergency law throughout the duration between opening the door for nominations and until the day of declaring the final results of the elections as a step towards the over all termination of the emergency law.

Fifthly:

Terminating the law on political parties’ number 40 for the year 1977 and its amendments by law number 177 for the year 2005, and drafting a new bill on political parties which shall include the following points:

  • – Political parties should be formed by notification only.
  • – The law could only set general conditions to ensure peaceful democratic political expression.
  • – All parties with military or military-like divisions should be banned.
  • – Parties based on religion, sectarianism, race should be banned.
  • – Political parties should have the freedom to establish any number of party newspapers or other visual or auditory media outlets through only notifying the designated authorities. They should also have the right to the freedom of holding conferences, symposiums, and meetings without having to get permissions from the designated authorities.
  • – Political parties should depend in its financing on their members dues and donations as well as unconditional gifts and subsidies offered from the state’s general budget provided that they abide by the rules of transparency and supervision.
  • – Political parties shall be exempt from all taxes and the fees which concern their buildings, headquarters, publications and other activities. The donations given by Egyptians should also be exempt from taxes.

Sixthly:

As it represents an obstacle in the way of the work of the NGOs and hinders the development of the civil society, law number 84 for the year 2002 needs to be replaced by an alternative legislation. Within that process, the bill drafter by the Egyptian Organization and Cairo’s Center for Human Rights Studies among others in November 2008 should be considered as such an alternative as it is based on international standards relevant to human rights especially the right to organization.

Seventhly:

Law number 100 for the year 1993 -commonly known as the law on democratic guarantees for syndicates organization- amended by law number 5 for the year 1995 should be terminated as it currently paralyzes the syndicates life, and as it is unconstitutional for never being presented to either houses of the parliament or the State Council. Also the rules pertaining each syndicate’s right to set the law organizing its affairs should be enforced, and there have to be amendments to the law on labor syndications number 53 for the year 1976 and its amendments through law number 1 for the year 1981 and number 12 for the year 1995.

 

Recommendations related to the legislative structure, the Egyptian coalition for monitoring elections recommends the following:

A. The security staff

1- The ministry of interior’s commitment with the provision of article 44 of the law on the exercise of political right.

2- the security staff’s abidance by the determined role according to the provision of article 26 of the law on the exercise of political rights which makes the security staff affiliated to the power of the head of general committee to fulfill the security inside and outside the poll stations the matter which provides the opportunity for citizens to vote without restrictions.  

B. The electoral rolls

The Egyptian coalition for monitoring elections confirms that the electoral rolls is the main reasons for decreasing the electoral participation rate due to the non updating of these rolls for long years, it is full with repeated names and dead people, so the coalition calls for :

–  Canceling the electoral rolls which already existed and to finish the project of National IDs and giving the to vote for those who carry IDs.

– Executing a comprehensive revision for the electoral rolls under judiciary independent institutions supervision.

C. The public money

It is necessary to separate state’s institutions and the ruling party in order to prevent the usage of public money during the electoral process.

D. The management of the electoral process

Updating the tools and procedures used in elections in order to bring it in a line with the international standards including the following:

–  Replacing the wooden boxes with transparent boxes.

– Providing the adequate quantity of the phosphoric ink and to ensure its validity in order not to repeat the voting process.

-Ensure training the electoral employees on the electoral law and how to implement it.

-Fixing the electoral rolls on the wall and prevent any side to control them during voting.

-Announcing for voters rolls and places of poll stations for candidates, parties and citizens at least two weeks before the electoral process.

 E. Promoting the political participations

Promoting the idea of political participation in the different sectors among citizens regarding this participation as one of the main basis for democracy, this will be fulfilled through condensing the awareness programs for citizens through organizing seminars and workshops and TV programs concerning this goal.

F. The electoral campaign

– Canceling the submission of Mass Media for the governmental sides, the necessarily to stipulate on the mass media’s abidance by impartiality and subjectivity and to lift restrictions imposed on issuing newspapers and channels and other mass media.

-Ensure that the role of mass media to cover elections is positive through the following: ensure the political indoctrination and to motivate citizens who have the right to participate and cast their votes.

-The full coverage of the electoral campaigns.

-Releasing dialogue on the cases of the elections programs of candidates and to provide an analytic coverage for these programs.

-To ensure that the mass media implements its role in monitoring and documenting the different practices during the electoral process such as the practices of the executive and administrations sides.

-The media coverage is mainly focused on the constituency rather than the candidates and to keep a balanced coverage among 222 constituencies and candidates inside each constituency according to the available times and places.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010 at 4:08 pm and is filed under Statements. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.

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