Juristic persons and activists demand the adoption of specific guarantees to ensure the integrity of the electoral process

December 2nd, 2013 by Editor

Legal experts, university professors, and human rights activists had come to agreement about the need to unite all the relevant laws of the electoral process, adopt measures to control the phenomenon of the political money, achieve precise control over the sources of the campaigns’ financing, and committing the candidates to the decisions which set the finance ceiling through the bank account system or the approved accounting firms by the permanent commission for elections, they’ve reached this conclusion at the end of the conference which entitled “ The Guarantees of the Forthcoming Electoral Process”, which was held yesterday, Sunday December 1st, 2013 in Pyramisa hotel, Dokki.

The conference was initiated by Counsel Mohamed Amin El-Mahdi; Minister of transitional justice, he emphasized that the elections represent the beginning of the roadmap and the protection of the public rights and freedoms, adding that the guarantees of the electoral process is the cornerstone and an important process for the Egyptian society especially after suffering a lot from the lack of the elections’ integrity and the looting of the voters’ will, which had a bad effect on the democracy.

El-Mahdi has further added that the will to build a democratic electoral process must prevail to ensure the integrity of the electoral process; starting from the voters’ database, the judicial supervision, the control of the electoral process, the commitment to the fiscal spending roof, the monitoring of the election campaigns, and the observing of the elections’ campaigns to ensure the non-usage of political slogans.

From his side, MR. Hafez Abu Seada, president of EOHR, has emphasized that the next parliament will establish the new democratic state, with the task of translating the values into legislations and laws to meet the demands of the Egyptians and ensure the basic freedoms and rights, therefore the guarantees of the integrity of the electoral process are very important, and also we need to translate the texts of the new constitution into legislations which will only happen under a strong and good parliament.

Dr. Ronald Meinardus; The Regional Director of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Liberty (FNF), has emphasized that the guarantees of the elections are very important to the future of Egypt, that the real democracy needs to ensure the application of human rights and the rule of law, adding that democracy also needs the participation and the responsibility of the citizens, who are supposed to participate in the political life not just the elections, stressing on the importance of the civic education as a condition for the achievement of the political participation.

In the first session, which was entitled “The basic principles for the integrity of the electoral process”, Mr. Hafez Abu Seada emphasized that the elections’ guarantees are not limited to the parliamentary elections but also apply on the referendum of the new constitution, adding that the guarantees are a key factor in bringing integrity and transparency to the conduct of the electoral process.

Abu Seada has further added that holding the elections in a democratic atmosphere is very important as this ensures the proper democratic form which result in the respect for the results and the political stability at the end.

Abu Seada has further emphasized that the previous parliamentary and presidential elections have been marred with the crime of fraud against the will of the voters, and the investigations are still valid till now, and that the human rights organizations monitored in many reports the deficiencies and violations, which prove the lack of integrity of those elections.

Mr Hazem Mounir; The Chairman of Trustees of the Egyptian Organization for Training and Human Rights, pointed that providing strong guarantees to the electoral process will result in giving the voters more confidence and feasibility of the change through peaceful means, through the ballot box, which will reflect the status of the exercise of freedom of opinion and expression in Egypt, and also will result in more credibility to the election results.

Mounir has further added that all the powers and authorities granted to the supreme council of elections face real problems, that the council doesn’t have a separate clause in the state’s general budget, therefore it can’t develop an implementation plan of its own tasks, doesn’t have an administrative apparatus to help in conducting the work, and also there are no mechanisms to ensure the size of the fiscal spending of the candidates to monitor the violations and irregularities.

Mounir has suggested creating a permanent independent committee to observe all the phases of the electoral process, starting from the preparation of the databases till the counting and announcement  of the results, to be installed in the constitution , with specific budget, including the representatives of the political parties represented in the parliament, and expand the field in determining the membership of the secretariats to go beyond the scope of the staff of the local governing bodies to the members of the professional associations and the trade unions in the state.

Mr. Farid Zahran; Vice-Chairman of the Egyptian democratic party, has emphasized that the egyptian constitution devoid of determining how to conduct the elections and has not stated the guarantees that must be taken to ensure the integrity of the elections and its impartiality, and the Egyptian constitutions just stated that the citizens have the right to vote, to be nominated, and to express their opinions according to the provisions of the law and the contribution in the public life, which the government relied on in issuing the law of organizing the political rights and its amendments, which doesn’t guarantee the integrity of the elections.

Dr. Magdi Abd El-Hamid; The president of the Egyptian Association for Community Participation Enhancement, has emphasized in the part of the national and international monitoring of the elections that the process of monitoring is an integral part to reach a democratic elections and activating an important part of the popular participation, that monitoring means tracing the path of the electoral process from the beginning to the end which means from the voters; registration phase and setting of the electoral rolls till the end of counting the votes phase and announcing the election result, which is performed mainly by teamwork of volunteers organized by the civil society institutions and organizations  (Non-governmental organizations) whether local, regional, or international.

Abd El-Hamid has further added that the work of supervision is considered one of the main pillars of the democratic principle, that we cannot speak today about fair elections without the supervision, which ensures the integrity of the exercise of the right to vote through the announcement of the validity of the elections, the legitimacy of the leaders is ensured after their election by the people through a universal suffrage on the electoral registration list level (A), publicity of the elections level(B) , and on the announcement of the elections’ results level (C).

Abd El-Hamid has also stressed on the importance of the role of the civil society organizations in monitoring the elections, to ensure the integrity and transparency of the elections and to devote the respect for the will of the people, therefore the local control committee should take all the necessary arrangements to monitor and control elections.

Dr. Soheir Lotfy; Political Sociology Professor, has commented that there is expansion in the powers of the supreme committee for elections since 2005, and that the departments in the ministry of interior and the ministry of local development should include specialists in the human rights, population, and logistics dimensions, and there should be also an easier communication way to reach the supreme committee of elections not at the central level but in each governorate.

The second session entitled “Guarantees of the integrity of the electoral, voting, and counting process”, was initiated by Mr. George Isaac; Member of the National Council for Human Rights, spoke about the elections’ campaigns by emphasizing that it is very important to monitor the electoral process, stressing on the importance of the citizens’ participation in the referendum for the new constitution to pass this stage and then manage to build a good electoral system based on the suitable electoral base, stating that it is important to purify the elections’ tables and publishing them as one of the guarantees of the integrity of the electoral process.

In the second axis about the media monitoring to the electoral process, Mr. Emad El-Deen Hussien; Editor Manager in El-Shourok newspaper, has emphasized that the media has an important role in directing the citizens to participate in the parliamentary elections, as the media is considered one of the main channels in expressing the opinion of the street and the Egyptian citizen.

Hussien has further added that the media monitoring is one of the guarantees of the integrity of the electoral process, that this monitoring should be conducted in atmosphere full of impartiality, transparency, can transfer the opinion and the counter opinion, and can open up political dialogue between all the different directions to ensure the availability of all the alternatives.

While Mr. Tarek El-Shamy;The director of El-Hurra channel in Cairo,  questioned to what extend the media enjoys the freedom needed to perform its role in monitoring the elections and the constitution referendum, demanding the full control to  be allowed for the media to be able to maintain its role.

El-Shamy has further added that the local and international media must monitor the elections, conduct reports on the campaigns and the final results, investigate the allegations of the violations, conduct surveys and public opinion polls before the elections, and evaluate the necessary means to display the elections’ results.

In the third axis about the enrollment problem in the electoral rolls, the Major General Mohamed Amin;  the Deputy Director of the General Administration of elections, has emphasized that the problem of electoral rolls are not in the possession of the Ministry of Interior and it is in the specialty of the supreme committee for the elections according to Article (3) of the political rights law, noting that the public administration for elections in the ministry of interior takes over several functions such as  processing and provision of the logistics and administrative measures necessary for the conduct of the referendum and the coming parliamentary elections, in coordination with the supreme committee for elections, the international donor organizations, and all the security directorates on the republic level.

Amin has further discussed the role of the public administration for the elections, which is performing some tasks such as, supplying the supreme committee for elections with the names of the police officers who are exempt from the exercise of the political rights, the people who gained the Egyptian nationality in less than 5 years, coordinating between the supreme committee for elections and the security directorate to determine the polling stations, coordinating between the committee and the election to publish the voters’ database to the citizens, and coordinating between the committee and the districts to print the final voters’ rolls in the electoral commissions.

From his side Dr. Ramy Abd El-Moaty; Minister of interior Affairs community Assistant, has asserted that the participation of the ministry of interior is a proof of the changing of its philosophy in dealing with the elections, and performing reviews to the previous abuses, referring to the ministry’s keenness on the cohesion between the people and the police, especially after revolutions of the twenty-fifth of January and the thirtieth of June, and that any institution recognize its previous mistakes shows a sign of success in seeking to correct the error, maintain the adjustment path, and follow the right approach.

Dr. Mostafa El-Nashrty; Management professor at the University of  science and technology in Egypt, has commented by giving some recommendations; a re-definition to the worker and the farmer in the electoral law is a must , a number of university graduates as assistants to the supreme committee for election will help in the process , and the application of the electronic voting which is considered as an important progress that must be taken into consideration to solve a lot of problems including the problem or the phenomenon of voting more than once , which can be solved by the use of the phosphoric ink that can’t be removed easily.

The 3rd session entitled “ learned lessons from the previous elections’ experiences”, was initiated by Dr. Taha Abd El-alim; Expert at Al Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, has emphasized that the second revolution included all the sectors in the society, so we are speaking about a real democratic revolution, against the fascist incitements, pointing that Egypt is a developed sovereign state, which doesn’t differentiate between the Egyptians , therefore the Egyptian shouldn’t stand with anyone but himself , and that the constitution which was prepared for the new Egypt.

From his side Mr. Hamdi El-Fakharany, spoke about the principal features of the previous elections to gain experiences that the political money played an important role in influencing the will of the voters, therefore we should combat this in the next elections, so if it was proved that a candidate is involved in  a bribe, that candidate should be subjected to a deterrent penalty, and also the voters must not be misleaded by the religious discourse especially in the rural areas, that the religion speech had an effect in the rural areas without stretching this effect to the urban areas , which means that we need to spread political awareness in the marginalized area that don’t receive much attention.

Mr Essam Shiha; Member of the supreme body of El-Wafd Party, has emphasized that the past parliamentary elections had witnessed a lot of drawbacks, such as the acts of violence and bullying, the using of the political money especially in the light of the overlap between the government and the state, the process of mixing the cases, and the appearance of the blatant rigging in a large scale that the international forces and intelligence had interfered to support some organizations and individuals , and it was necessary at that time for some businessmen to interfere to support some political parties, individuals, or political trends to meet the needs of the ruling powers apart from the impartiality and integrity of the elections.

Shiha demanded the next legislations to include the safeguarding of the public freedoms in any country where the elections will be conducted, such as; the maintenance of the right of the citizens to have peaceful assemblies, demonstrations, conducting elections’ processions, to be subjected to appropriate court in case of committing any offense, and the non violation of the privacy of the citizens.

Mr. Ammar Ali Hassan; political sociology researcher, clarified the point of “how to choose your candidate and avoid the drawbacks of the previous elections?” stating that the best road to select the candidate starts with;  censure the programs that rely on the construction, disapproval of the programs that contain exaggerated promises the candidates won’t be able to fulfill, discard the programs which are limited to the providence of the service, the non-following of the programs which the candidate trade his religion in where the candidate use versus of EL-Quraan or saying of the prophet which is far from his behavior, matching what the program promise with the needs of the circuit, focus on the content, matching the program with the experience and expertise of the candidate, and reviewing all the programs in the market to choose the best.

Mr. Abd El –Ghaffar shoukr; Vice-President of the National Council for Human Rights, commented that the foundations for the elections must be based on the right of the citizens to be nominated, the right of each candidate to reach the voters under equal opportunity, the right of each voter to cast the vote free of any restrictions, the elections’ result must reflect the actual voting, and the electoral process must be under the supervision of a neutral body.

The participants concluded the conference with a set of recommendations:

  • The need of dividing the constituencies as a phase in the electoral process, which plays an important role in achieving the will of the voters, and also it is a key factor in achieving the freedom of the elections, and equal opportunity for the candidates, therefore the law must include, firstly that every seat should be concluded by the calculation of the number of votes in exchange for a certain percentage, that the total number of the votes determine the total seats number with regard to the cities and the geographical boundaries, secondly, the administrative divisions to make it easier for the voter to know his elections’ place, thirdly, the juxtaposition spatial of all the components of the constituency so that the voters won’t be distracted.
  • With regard to the guarantees of the integrity,  first the need to determine the fiscal spending on the electoral process with a specific amount to be adhered by the selecting of an account bank, where all the donations goes to , and conducting a specific budget to show all the expenditures, and making the consequence of bypassing the spending the deletion of the candidate. Second the non-usage of political slogans or worship places and put financial fines on the usage if these slogans.
  • There should be obligations to the process of division of electoral districts in order to achieve the integrity of the electoral process such as, taking into account the match , or at least convergence between the organization sector and the electoral because the voter should not the elections’ place through the organizational sector , to make it easier for the organization bodies to perform its tasks without any electoral purposes and taking into account the need for a high degree of clarity and transparency on the headquarters of the election and the importance of being in places known and safe .
  • The necessity of taking into account the lack of breadth of the circle to the extent that limits the ability of the candidate to cover the necessary electoral propaganda, or be an obstacle in case of success to represent all its inhabitants.
  • The need to take into account the spatial juxtaposition between neighborhoods, areas, and villages of all constituencies when applying the division of electoral districts to facilitate the process for the candidates and voters.
  • The existence of a provision to force the monitoring of the civil society organizations at all stages to the electoral process that the observer will receives a copy of the announcement of the result.
  • Adopting the principle of electronic voting process to avoid fraud.
  • Toughening the penalties in the electoral crimes in general and the crime of buying votes in particular with the notifying that the case will not to fall for such crimes even after a long time after it being raised.

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