Tuesday,17 October, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1180, (16-22 January 2014)
Tuesday,17 October, 2017
Issue 1180, (16-22 January 2014)

Ahram Weekly

Smooth enough

Local election monitors observing the referendum report minor irregularities, writes Mohamed Abdel-Baky

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Al-Ahram Weekly

According to the Supreme Elections Committee, the referendum was monitored by more than 80,000 local observers working for 67 domestically registered groups. There were also 790 foreign observers from six international organisations, including Transparency International and Carter Center.

Irregularities recorded by observers include delays in opening polling stations and campaigning inside them.

“Such irregularities will not affect the legitimacy or transparency of the electoral process but reporting them could help the elections committee avoid them in the future,” said Magdi Abdel-Hamid, head of the Egyptian Association for Community Participation.

The Independent Coalition for Monitoring the Elections — an alliance of more than 100 NGOs — said it had noted a higher turnout than it anticipated, especially among women and the elderly, in Lower Egypt, which includes Alexandria and Cairo. It also reported that voting had been hampered by supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood in several locations. The alliance said campaigning in favour of the constitution had been conducted in front of a number of polling stations, and that in some places military vehicles had been broadcasting songs encouraging people to vote yes.

One person was killed in the Haram district of Giza. Elsewhere in the same governorate Brotherhood supporters blocked roads with burning tyres.

“The violence did not stop voters from casting their ballots. Indeed, it appeared to make them more determined,” said Abdel-Hamid.

An explosion in Atfeeh village in Giza caused a house to collapse but no injuries resulted. A second explosion appeared to target the old police department of Atfeeh. Again no injuries were reported. In the same village police detained Al-Jazeera journalist Mohamed Saleh after he was allegedly found campaigning for a no vote in front of a polling station. 

In Sohag governorate 17 people were arrested following clashes between supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood and security forces which left four dead and six wounded. 

In many areas Brotherhood supporters used vehicles with microphones to urge people to boycott the referendum while those who back the interim authorities played military songs and continued to campaign outside polling stations.

In Beni Sweif observers reported a preponderance of pro-constitution campaign material plastered around polling stations as military vehicles played patriotic songs. In Sohag a handful of Brotherhood supporters distributed flyers and raised banners urging a boycott. Monitors said polling stations in the governorate lacked privacy. Voting booths had not been curtained off.

In Gharbiya governorate some polling stations did not open until early afternoon after judges failed to arrive to supervise them. A shortfall in the number of supervising judges also meant some polling stations had to be merged in Sinai.

The Judges Club issued a statement saying the elections committee had suspended a number of judges who took it on themselves to advise voters how they should cast their vote.

“These judges were excluded from any supervisory role after complaints from citizens that they tried to interfere in voters’ choices,” said Mahmoud Al-Sherif, secretary-general of the Judges Club.

Nasser Amin, head of the Arab Centre for the Independence of the Judiciary and Legal Profession, said the process was transparent on the whole. 

“We can report that the executive authority did not interfere in the process and gave space for all citizens to make their decision freely,” he said.

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