Saturday,22 September, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1272, (26 November - 2 December 2015)
Saturday,22 September, 2018
Issue 1272, (26 November - 2 December 2015)

Ahram Weekly

Minor irregularities

Election observers release their reports on the second stage of the parliamentary elections, reports Mohamed Abdel-Baky

Al-Ahram Weekly

Monitors have recorded hundreds of irregularities and violations across the 13 governorates that held the second phase of the parliamentary elections. However, for the most part, the violations did not seriously affect the fairness and transparency of the electoral process, observers said.

In its report, the National Council for Human Rights (NCHR) said that it had received 600 complaints concerning irregularities and violations in all the governorates where the second phase of the parliament elections was staged. These included the late opening of polling stations, absence of judges and the closure of poll stations during the voting because of violence. Violations also included buying votes, bussing voters and campaigning during the electoral moratorium.   

The Higher Election Committee (HEC) approved the requests of 81 NGOs to observe the poll in addition to six international organisations: Democracy International, the Global Network for Rights and Development, the International Institute for Peace, Justice and Human Rights, the Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa, the Ecumenical Alliance for Human Rights and Development, and the Arab League.

The local organisations which granted monitoring status deployed up to 97,000 observers. According to HEC, the list includes the Egyptian Organisation for Human Rights and the Maat Foundation for Peace, Development and Human Rights.

In most of the monitors’ reports, vote-buying was widespread across many governorates. In some areas in Cairo, Sharqiya and Damietta, a vote went up to LE500.

“We have received 194 complaints of vote-buying from Cairo, Gharbiya, Sharqiya, Daqahliya, Ismailia and Kafr Al-Sheikh, and we reported them to the HEC,” Nabil Shalabi, head of the operation room of the NCHR, told Al-Ahram Weekly.

Shalabi said it was not easy to prove that bribes were being given by proxies working for the candidates. He also noted that as long as violations were being committed outside polling station, judges who were supervising the electoral process in the stations could not interfere.  “A formal complaint had to be filed with the HEC to investigate and then act accordingly,” he said.

“Our observers reported that some candidates were giving money to voters in Abu Al-Seoud in Fustat district and the Om Al-Moemeneen polling station in Basati,” the NCHR said. The report added that the minimum cost of the vote at these two poll stations was LE100.

The Egyptian Coalition for Monitoring Elections (ECME) said that it has also recorded the same violation.

“In Damietta, in the Delta, we reported electoral bribes that reached LE400 to LE500 a vote,” said the ECME report.

The report added that the violations occurred at the polling station located in front of Al-Shahid Omar Al-Shazli School. Other similar violations were reported in many poll stations in the same city.

According to the ECME report, many candidates out of Cairo transported hundreds of voters from their villages to the poll stations and back. The trip to the poll station included singing songs on the buses that support a certain candidate. They were also given free meals.

“A candidate in Gharbiya used six buses to transport voters from Al-Rahebi village, in Samanoud, to poll stations,” the ECME report said.

“All of the violations and irregularities that we recorded did not threaten the fairness and transparency of the process,” said Ramadan Abu Gazara, a member of the International Monitoring Mission to monitor the Egyptian elections. “We think that the police should do a better job in terms of voter buying. We urge the HEC to cooperate more with the Ministry of Interior in order that this phenomenon disappears from elections in Egypt,” Gazara said.

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