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Local monitoring of parliamentary elections to be allowed
Local monitoring of parliamentary elections to be allowed
egypt: Local monitoring of parliamentary elections to be allowed Egypt has decided to allow local civic groups to monitor the November legislative elections if they have ...
Tuesday, May 29,2007 13:32
IkhwanWeb
egypt: Local monitoring of parliamentary elections to be allowed 
Egypt has decided to allow local civic groups to monitor the November legislative elections if they have approval from a government-backed human rights council, the official MENA news agency reported.  
 
  “The electoral commission has entrusted the council to take requests by Egyptian civic organizations... review their applications and send a list to the commission for its consideration, following which it will deliver the necessary permits,” it said.
“Civic groups will be able to visit polling stations... and be present at every stage of the vote up until results are announced,” MENA said, adding the decision had been reached at an electoral commission meeting chaired by Justice Minister Mahmoud Abuleil.
Egyptian-American sociologist and human rights activist Saad-Eddin Ibrahim, meanwhile, announced the launch of an international network to support democracy and observe the elections.
Ibrahim said the network grouped 14 Egyptian, 5 American and 4 European civic groups, including his own Cairo-based Ibn Khaldoun Center for sociological and political studies.
Democracy in Egypt “is an Egyptian affair but it matters to the entire world”, Ibrahim told reporters, adding that foreign groups in the network would “provide technical assistance”.
Ibrahim was sentenced to seven years in prison in 2001 for “tarnishing the image of Egypt” and “illegally receiving funds from abroad”, but was acquitted by a court of appeal.
Among the US groups in the network are Freedom Watch, the pro-democracy and development arm of the Democratic Party, the National Democratic Institute, and the Congress-financed National Endowment for Democracy.
Egypt failed to heed Washington’s calls for international monitoring of the September vote, charging that it would be tantamount to interference in Egypt’s internal affairs.
An alliance of Egyptian opposition movements running in the legislative elections demanded last week that the government go back on its decision and allow international monitors.
An Egyptian rights activist hailed the decision to allow local monitoring of the parliamentary elections as “a good step, but permission should directly be given” to non-governmental organizations.
“And the language is tricky. What does it mean to allow people to ‘visit’ polling stations?” asked Hafez Abu-Sada of the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights.
The Independent Committee for Election Monitoring (ICEM), which is affiliated to Ibrahim’s center, said registration for the November elections “was characterized by confusion, bias and disorder.”
Some opposition candidates affiliated with Kefaya (Enough!) and the banned but tolerated Muslim Brotherhood “were denied the right to register” while others “complained about ill-treatment” by security men, the ICEM added.
It also condemned the fact candidates had to be registered in central security offices, which is “a clear indication of the executive’s dominance over the entire registration process”.
Monitors were allowed to monitor the September 7 presidential vote though many rights groups reported that their representatives were often barred access to voting stations and even beaten up.
They also decried widespread irregularities in the overall polling process.
The legislative elections will begin on November 9 and end a month later, with the country’s provinces divided into three groups voting in successive phases.
About 5,000 persons had registered as candidates as of last week

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