Egyptian opposition demands into monitors

Egyptian opposition demands into monitors
CAIRO – Egyptian opposition groups which have formed an alliance to fight November parliamentary elections want international human rights organisations to monitor the vote, a member of the alliance said on Wednesday.
George Ishak said the alliance that includes his Kefaya protest movement would ask foreign human rights groups, including London-based Amnesty International and New York-based Human Rights Watch, to monitor the election.

The request would also be sent to the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights and the U.N.’s Human Rights Committee in Geneva. But it would be up to the government to request U.N. monitoring, he said.

Ishak, speaking on behalf of the National Front for Political and Constitutional Change, told Reuters the request for foreign monitors was ’to guarantee transparency and that the elections be free’.

The government fended off calls from the United States to allow foreign monitors for the country’s first presidential election in September.

The government said it saw no need for foreign monitoring of the election, in which President Hosni Mubarak won a large majority to extend his 24 years in power.

The parliamentary elections, held in three stages that start in November and last into December, are organised by a committee headed by Egypt’s justice minister.

A government official, who declined to be named, said it was that committee’s decision whether to allow foreign monitoring.


The Muslim Brotherhood, widely seen as Egypt’s best organised opposition force, said it did not share the demand for foreign monitors. ’We do not request them and we do not rely on them,’ Deputy Brotherhood leader Mohamed Habib told Reuters.

The Brotherhood, an officially outlawed but tolerated Islamist movement, is part of the alliance. But its candidates, who sidestep the ban by standing as independents, are not on the single list drawn up by the opposition front.

Wael Nawara, secretary general of the opposition Ghad (Tomorrow) Party, which is not part of the alliance, said foreign monitors would help ensure a fair race but said the key element would be a large number of Egyptian judges and monitors who would know the kind of abuses to look for.

’In principle, we will not demand foreign monitors but we will not reject foreign monitors. Foreign monitors would be an addition … but I don’t think it is sufficient (to ensure a fair race),’ he told Reuters.

Egyptian civil rights groups which monitored the Sept. 7 presidential election reported abuses including ballot stuffing and intimidation. But the violations were not enough to cast doubt over the result, they said.

The rights groups say they have swelled their ranks with thousands of people to monitor the parliamentary elections.