Monday,16 July, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1165, (19 - 25 September 2013)
Monday,16 July, 2018
Issue 1165, (19 - 25 September 2013)

Ahram Weekly

On track for a national referendum

A presidential decree forming a seven-member higher electoral commission brings the election season closer, writes Gamal Essam El-Din

Al-Ahram Weekly

On 11 September interim President Adli Mansour paved the way for elections by issuing a decree establishing a seven-member higher electoral commission. It will be headed by Chairman of Cairo Appeals Court Nabil Salib Awadallah. All members are drawn from the judiciary. They include Ezzat Abdel-Gawad and Mohamed Hossam Ahmed, deputy chairmen of the Court of Cassation, Essameddin Abdel-Aziz and Gamal Taha Ismail Nada, deputy chairmen of the State Council, the chairman of Alexandria Appeals Court Sabri Mohamed Hamed and the chairman of Tanta Appeals Court Ayman Mahmoud Kamel.
The seven reserve members of the commission are deputy chairmen of the Court of Cassation Anwar Ammar and Ezzat Al-Bindari; State Council deputy chairmen Mohamed Qishta and Yehia Negm, the head of Mansoura Appeals Court Mahfouz Saber and Ismailia Appeals Court Magdi Mounir.
Commission head Salib stresses that Mansour’s decree — 586/2013 — is procedural, serving only to appoint members to the commission to replace others who have reached retirement age.
The commission will have the final say in all matters relating to the organisation of elections. “Once the new constitution is passed in a national referendum the commission will be ready to oversee the parliamentary election with complete integrity and impartiality,” says Salib.
It will also oversee the referendum scheduled to be held within 30 days of the drafting of a new constitution.
The commission will not supervise presidential elections. “Our job is just to supervise referendums and parliamentary elections,” says Salib. “Presidential elections will be held under the supervision and monitoring of the Supreme Constitutional Court.”
During a meeting on 14 September members of the commission discussed forming a general secretariat to facilitate their work.
Salib says revising voter lists and wrapping up preparations for the upcoming national referendum top the commission’s current agenda. “The voter lists must be updated and supporting sub-committees and a secretariat-general need to be formed well ahead of the referendum date,” he says.
Mansour’s decree was issued against the backdrop of a heated debate over whether presidential elections should be held ahead of the parliamentary poll. In a six hour meeting on 15 September representatives of several political parties pressed hard for staging presidential elections to be given priority. “Mansour showed understanding of our demand but said the post-30 June political roadmap must be respected,” says Ahmed Said, chairman of the liberal Egyptian Social Democratic Party.
Senior Deputy Chairman of the State Council Abdel-Aziz argued it would be impossible for interim President Adli Mansour to amend his 8 July constitutional declaration to allow presidential elections to be held first.
The timetable, says Abdel-Aziz, is for the constitutional referendum to be followed by parliamentary polls and then presidential elections. Abdel-Aziz, a member of technical committee which amended Egypt’s 2012 Islamist-backed constitution, underlined that the 50-member committee currently revising the 2012 constitution lacks the authority to amend the political roadmap. “The 50-member committee must commit to drafting a concise constitution imposing a strict ban on the formation of religious parties,” he added.
Salib was about to be forced into retirement by president Mohamed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood before Morsi’s ouster. Morsi attempted to exploit the Shura Council’s Islamist majority to draft a judicial authority law cutting the retirement age for judges from 70 to 60.

add comment

  • follow us on