Minister of Justice and Head of ٍSupreme Commission for Parliamentary Election
Justice Mahmoud Abu Al-Leil, Minister of Justice and Head of ٍSupreme Commission for Parliamentary Election
On Wednesday October 11th 2005, Egypt has witnessed the first phase of parliamentary elections whose second round is to be held next Tuesday. The Egyptian Organisation for Human Rights (EOHR) has recorded violations that have tarnished the election process. Examples are abundant:
1. Doubtful election rolls, a chronic problem during parliamentary elections, as it was during presidential elections. EOHR has recorded obvious mistakes in election rolls evidenced in repeated and dead people’s names, absent names, or differential electoral rolls handed to the National Democratic Party’s (NDP) candidates and other parties’ candidates. For example, EOHR’s watchdogs have recorded mistakes in the electoral rolls of the Dokki-Agouza constituency whose rolls have not been reviewed for fifty years. EOHR has found out collective registry cases of: 556 ministerial employees and 350 employees of the Cleanliness and Beautification Organization in addition to 13,000 repeated name cases in more than a Dokki-Agouza electoral committee and almost all the remaining Giza constituencies. Such mistakes have resulted in a meagre political participation of 15% to 20%.
2. Collective enrolment of employees at public- or private-owned institutions. Misuse of Public funds and governmental influence in order to influence voters, especially in Giza and Cairo constituencies. EOHR observers have recorded a collective enrolment case in Omranya School Sub-Committee, Boulak Al-Dakrour-Omranya Constituency in which employees at Alexandria Customs, for whom election tickets had been arbitrarily issued out, was collectively enrolled in favour of an NDP candidate.
3. Violence and bullying incidents against NDP’s rival candidates. EOHR has recorded break-ins of election committees in Manial and Qasr Al-Nil Constituencies. Frictions have also been recorded at Sayedah Zeinab Constituent between NDP’s advocates and the Muslim Brotherhood candidate over Guild Seat, which led to voters’ departure lest they got hurt or injured. Boulaq Abu Al-Elaa Constituency has also witnessed violence acts on the NDP candidate Badr Al-Qadi’s part against the independent candidate Mohamed Masoud Afiffi whose election headquarters has been attacked and his advocates were fired at. Security forces did not even interfere to protect him.
4. Denied access of agents of Opposition’s, Muslim Brotherhood’s, Independent’s candidates as well as EOHR’s observers into canvass areas in Dokki-Agouza, Al-Maahad Al-Fani (Technical Institute), and Sayeda Zeinab Constituencies. Denied access, candidate’s agents and EOHR’s observers were unable to watch over boxes entering into the aforesaid constituencies under the pretext of counting boxes. However, after more than 15 minutes, some agents were able to get in, only to find out that canvass had already started.
Moreover, the phosphoric ink was not used and it was not easy to remove it by chloride or aromatics. Such was the case in Hadaeq Al-Quba (Quba Gardens), Al-Bagour, Boulaq Al-Dakrour- Omranya Constituencies. Complete judicial superintendence was also absent; instead, Administrative Prosecution’s and State Causes’ Panel’s members were in charge.
EOHR’s have also recorded a score of violations during canvass such as the denial and the expulsion of candidates’ agents and human rights’ observers from canvass posts in many constituencies; amalgamated number of votes; employees counting votes; and delays of canvass in most constituencies owing to delays in delivering boxes from sub-committees to general committees.
Governorate-by-governorate Violations during Canvass
(1) Giza Governorate
(1-a) Kerdassa Constituent
EOHR’s watchdogs have recorded Kerdassa’s Committee Head’s vote casting termination when he was sure of the Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate Abdel Salam Bashandi’s winning 70% of valid votes. Moreover, at 11:30 p.m., the Committee Head conferred with the Giza Security Directorate in a closed meeting lasted until 2:45 a.m. The result: A second round between Bashandi and the NDP’s candidate.
(1-b) Al-Maadi-Al-Basateen Constituency
EOHR’s observers have recorded Al-Maadi-Al-Basateen Committee’s Head allowance of four (4) boxes in at 2:30 a.m. upon the announcement that the independent candidate Akmal Qurtam was winning at the expense of the NDP’s candidate Mohamed Mourshedy by 4000 votes. Consequently, canvass results were altered, and Mourshedy was announced winner next day.
(1-c) Dokki-Agouza Constituency
EOHR’s observers have recorded, on surveying initial results of Dokki-Agouza’s Sub-Committee, Hazim Abu Ismail’s advance in 32 boxes where he got 2291 votes, whereas Dr. Amal Osman, NDP’s candidate, got 1337. The Committee Head then ordered all candidates’ agents out for at least eight (8) consecutive hours. Meanwhile, the presiding judge ordered seven (7) wooden boxes, unloaded from a police wagon, in. Later on, NDP’s candidate was announced winner by 11,000 votes versus 3,000 votes for the Muslim Brotherhood candidate.
(1-f) Atfeah Constituency
Ballot boxes were collected inside the canvass tent, next to the Agriculture Administration. Security forces ordered many candidates’ agents out. Time and again, seven (7) closed, wooden boxes, unloaded from a police wagon, were let in through the tents backdoor.
(1-g) Al-Saf Constituency
The Committee Head ordered security forces clear the place following a friction between himself and the NDP’s candidate, Labour Seat. Consequently, security forces ordered every one in out by force, throwing chairs at them. One officer hurled Hani Mahmoud, an EOHR observer with an iron chair. Hani was injured in the back of his head and was bruised in his face just below his left eye. (1-h) Awseem Constituency
Canvass was conducted in the absence of Opposition, Muslim Brotherhood, Independent candidates’ agents and observers of human rights organizations. .
(2) Cairo Governorate
(2-a) Boulaq Abu Al-Elaa Constituency
Candidate’s agents were denied attendance of canvass. In an official record, independent candidate Mohamed Masoud Afiffi accused the Committee of casting away many valid votes he got that should have made him winner.
(2-b) Nasr City-Misr Al-Gadidah Constituency
Canvass was over before the arrival of the candidate’s agents. EOHR’s observers have also recorded unsealed or non-red-waxed boxes. Muslim Brotherhood voting papers were found about ballot boxes.
(3) Beni Sweif Governorate
(3-a) Beni Sweif Downtown Constituent
General Committees’ Heads of Beni Sweif Downtown canvassed ballot boxes simultaneously thus holding candidates’ agents and human rights’ observers off overseeing the process. The Committee Head has also insisted on an amalgamated vote counting.
(3-b) Ihnasia Constituent
Three hours after canvass had started at Ihnasia General Canvass Committee, Ballot Box 96 of Ihnasia Co-ed School Sub-Committee and Box 2 of Ihnasia City Council Sub-Committee were delivered. The canvass result was announced four hours later.
(3-c) Beba Constituency
Canvass at Beba General Canvass Committee ceased between 1:00 a.m. and 4:00 a.m. even though twelve (12) boxes had not been canvassed yet.
(4) Matrouh Governorate
Complying with directives from Committees’ Heads, all ballot boxes were delivered without candidates’ agents consent. Canvass was also conducted in the absence of candidates’ agents, EOHR’s and other human rights’ watchdogs. In Sedi Berani General Canvass Committee ballot box 97 was delivered at 1:00 a.m. and was canvassed outside the Committee.
EOHR does stress that the aforesaid transgressions have more or less influenced the outcomes of the parliamentary elections. Therefore, in order to avoid recurrences during next rounds and phases, EOHR calls upon the Parliamentary Election High Committee to consider the following:
1. The Parliamentary Election Supreme Commission should create a committee composed of only court judges and civil rights’ observers to re-canvass votes in Al-Maadi-Al-Basateen, Dokki-Agouza, and Kerdassa Constituencies so arguments are over about integrity. The Committee should also match signatures of Sub-Committees’ Heads in records of ballot boxes with signatures in records of ballot boxes at General Committees.
2. Rulings of Administrative Judiciary Court should be implemented in Boulaq Al-Dakrour-Omranya, Mounshaet Al-Qanatir, Al-Waily Constituents. Re-election between all candidates should also take place after changing their designation from Labour and Peasant to Guild.
3. The Committee should examine violations recorded by EOHR’s and human rights’ observers during balloting and canvass. Responsible should also be investigated as soon as possible.
4. The Committee should empower Human rights’ observers in order to attend all election processes starting from balloting, through accompanying boxes, to canvass in accordance to the Administrative Judiciary Court’s ruling.
5. The Committee should review all election rolls prior to next phases, seriously consider appeals and complaints concerning elections, and should not stop at setting guiding rules regulating elections.
6. The Committee should also cooperate fully with the Judges’ Club and Civil Society representatives making sure that judges superintend balloting and canvass process completely, especially that some judges have disowned the results of the First Round, First Phase. Judges who superintend balloting should be only court judges to the exclusion of the Administrative Prosecution’s and the Courts’ Panel’s judges, especially after many violations of non-court judges in a number of constituencies have been recorded by EOHR’s and other human right’s observers.
7. The Committee should take appropriate measures to help curb election bribes, violence, and bullying in the next phases, according to articles 44 and 48 of the Political Rights Exercise Law 37  modified by Law 173 .
8. The Committee should monitor publicity spending, reveal spent figures, and detect infringement cases that have exceeded 70,000 pounds, maximum spending-on-campaigns limit. Use of religious slogans should also be monitored.
9. The Committee should issue directives to security forces and administrative authorities in order to commit themselves to objectivity during elections. Such directives should guarantee no violence against independents, opposition, or any other political movements’ candidates, through either banning election conferences or tearing banners out. The directives should also guarantee monitoring use of public buildings, facilities, transportations, especially those belonging to governmental institutions and organizations, and state-owned plants during presidential and parliamentary elections. Stringent punishments are applied to violators.
Hafez Abu Saeda