Tuesday,12 December, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1267, (22 - 28 October 2015)
Tuesday,12 December, 2017
Issue 1267, (22 - 28 October 2015)

Ahram Weekly

Smooth voting

Election observers recorded only minor violations and small-scale violence, reports Mohamed Abdel-Baky

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Al-Ahram Weekly

Initial reports by election observers recorded no major violations that could question the transparency and fairness of the first phase of the parliamentary elections, which took place on 18 and 19 October.

A total of 87 NGOs, including six international organisations, observed the polls, in addition to missions from the Arab League, Comesa and the African Union.

The Egyptian Coalition to Monitor the Elections, including 120 NGOs, said in a statement that its monitors in 14 governorates reported a low turnout of voters in the first phase of the elections, as well as minor violations by candidates and administrative mistakes. However, the report added that the violations had not affected the electoral process.

“There were minor violations, such as opening the committees late in the morning due to the late arrival of judges, or campaigning during the moratorium,” said Said Abdel-Hafez, coordinator of the Egyptian Coalition to Monitor the Elections.

Abdel-Hafez referred to the tight security measures in all the constituencies, noting the efforts undertaken by security forces to facilitate the voting process.

The coalition said that violations were committed by a number of candidates in several governorates. In Qena, the Al-Nour Party made use of a megaphone in one mosque to campaign for its candidates.

In Giza, a candidate from the Free Egyptians Party (FEP) used cars to campaign in front of the polling stations. In Minya, a candidate distributed meat and blankets to voters in front of a polling station.

In some governorates, some polling stations did not open on time, including a primary school that opened at 9.30am in the Badrasheen electoral district in Giza governorate. Khalil Lamei Primary School in Abou Seer opened its booths at 11.30am while Abdel Wahab Masoud School in Qena opened at 9.49am.

Some governorates also witnessed small-scale violent incidents as clashes erupted between candidate supporters. This led to the closure of some polling stations in Luxor and Giza governorates. Police reported that nine people were injured in the Badrashin district and three people in Luxor.

Moreover, some administrative mistakes occurred in Alexandria at Burj Al-Arab. One candidate number on the list was changed from 31 to 30, without the candidate being notified, after the withdrawal of a candidate. She filed a complaint and the incident is currently pending an investigation at the Higher Electoral Commission (HEC).

The most notable administrative mistake noted by observers was in Alexandria where a previously disqualified candidate won 60 per cent of the vote. Businessman Ali Elba got the majority of votes in a polling station at Al-Raml consistency in Egypt’s second biggest city even though he had been disqualified from the parliamentary race by a court ruling.

“The problem is that the candidate was disqualified just one day before the elections after ballot papers had already been printed,” Abdullah Al-Khouli, head of the committee that supervises elections in Alexandria, said. “All the votes which went to him will be considered void.”

“In general, the electoral process was successful from the technical prospective, but there are still many things the HEC must do to make the elections more organised and up to international standards,” said Magdi Abdel-Hamid, director of the Egyptian Association for Community Participation Enhancement, which also observed the first phase of the elections.

Egypt’s new House of Representatives will have 596 members — 448 elected as individuals, 120 through the winner-takes-all party list system and 28 appointed by the ‎president.

Abdel-Hamid added that election observers will release their final report after the run-off of the first phase.

Amos Sawyer, head of the African Union mission that monitored the polls, told Al-Ahram Weekly that a press conference will be held within a couple of days to announce the AU’s observations regarding the electoral process.

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