Saturday,23 February, 2019
Current issue | Issue 1387, (29 March - 4 April 2018)
Saturday,23 February, 2019
Issue 1387, (29 March - 4 April 2018)

Ahram Weekly

Poll monitoring

Doaa El-Bey on the role of NGOs and civil society in monitoring the presidential poll


Poll monitoring

“Our role is to underline that participation in the election is the exercise of an important democratic right. We also want to emphasise the impartiality and integrity of the elections,” Ayman Akil, the spokesperson for the Nazaha (Integrity) Coalition, said during a press conference announcing the start of their work earlier this week.

Nazaha comprises three local and international observers — Maat Foundation (Egypt), Volunteers Without Borders (Lebanon) and the Ecumenical Alliance for Human Rights and Development (Switzerland). The coalition took part in monitoring the ballot with 21 international and 40 local observers in 13 different governorates.

Fifty-three local organisations and nine international and Arab organisations observed this week’s presidential election, according to Mahmoud Lasheen, the official spokesperson of the National Electoral Commission (NEC).

Like other election observers Nazaha followed up on the election and monitored the count. 

“The mission of the coalition is to cast light on any violations and keep the elections on the right path,” Riad Eissa, head of the coalition, said.

International monitoring organisations approved by the NEC include the Sweden Centre for Human Rights, Global Council for Tolerance and Peace and the International Centre for Research and Human Rights in Brussels. 

Representatives of international organisations such as the African Union (AU), the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) and the Community of Sahel-Saharan States (CEN-SAD) also acted as observers.

Poll monitoring

The National Council for Human Rights (NCHR) coordinated pre-election training for observers and NGOs and set up an operation room to receive complaints from NGOs to be passed on to the NEC. As Al-Ahram Weekly went to press it reported it had received complaints about the late opening of some polling centres and the absence of facilities for disabled voters.

However, Eissa Foufa of CEN-SAD told the Weekly in a phone interview that “the polling station opened on time with very few exceptions that were late for 10 or 15 minutes. Equipment needed for election were available and the judge and his aids answered the voters’ queries in a friendly manner,” he said.

CEN-SAD formed a joint delegation with COMESA. They formed 10 teams of three experts each. Four teams monitored the election in Alexandria, Sharqiya, Menoufiya and Ismailia. The other six teams toured greater Cairo.

“Visiting different places gave us a wider picture about the elections. Most of the teams stayed in the polling stations until closing time to make sure that they closed on time,” Foufa said.

Monitoring organisations are required to submit a report containing their observations once the election process is concluded.

To acquire a permit to monitor the elections NGOs were required to show a history of observing elections, upholding human rights or supporting democracy and possess a reputation for integrity and objectivity, says the NEC.

“We monitor elections on the domestic as well as the international level and will propose recommendations that will make participation in future elections — especially the 2020 parliamentary election — easier,” said Ayman Nasri from the Ecumenical Alliance for Human Rights and Development.

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