Raising citizens’ Awareness about their right to political participation to local elections

Raising citizens’ Awareness about their right to political participation to local elections

Cairo 27/2/2008                                                                  Press Release

LCHR’s Symposium Entitled:

Raising citizens’ Awareness about their right to political participation to guarantee impartial local elections

On 21/2/2008, LCHR has held a symposium at its headquarter about its report “the illusion of political participation in the Egyptian countryside” in the context of the upcoming local elections.

40 farmers and activists attended this meeting from Fayoum, Bany Swief, Qalubeya, Menya, Behira, Sohag, Qena, Giza, Daqahleya and Asiute.

The first session started with a presentation by the researcher who helped issuing this report Ms. Fatma Ramadan. She presented the problems that researchers face to obtain information about the research villages and the results that they have reached of the poor conditions of political parties there and the absence of the role of youth centers, agrarian associations and development associations in rising with the countryside. Then she presented the different obstacles that have caused these results, like the negative governmental interference in the activities of the civil society organizations and political parties. Then she presented the report recommendations.

Then spoke Dr. Nader Fergany, manager of El Meshkat Center. He said that case studies in the report enriched it, as it gave us a clear view about the hard conditions and misery that farmers live in. he said that the best solution for the problem of political participation in the countryside is organizing the farmers.

Then spoke Dr. Usama Bedeir, from the Agricultural Research Center. He said that the report has neglected many important points and focused on a few issues.

The second session started with a presentation by Mr. Abdel Ghaffar Shukr, from the Arab Research Center. He spoke about the role of the local administration in developing the countryside and solving people’s problems. He asserted the importance of carefully choosing and electing candidates for the membership of the local councils based on their programs and political history, in order to guarantee their commitment to impartially defend citizens’ rights.

Then spoke Ms. Wafa’a El Masry, lawyer and member of the freedom committee in the lawyers syndicate. She said that without judicial supervision over the elections, how could the people expose the forgery attempts in these elections for the favor of the National Party candidates. All they could do is present challenges against these elections demanding to restart them.

Then spoke Mr. Abdullah Ma’moun, under secretary of the Ministry of Education. He said that the despair state in the countryside has increased because of the governmental negligence and carelessness concerning citizens’ rights and because of its past actions in the elections of the People’s Assembly and Consultative Council. He asserted that people’s resistance and working with the people outside the governmental frame would help them overcome these obstacles and guarantee the advancement of the society.

Then spoke Mr. Hamdy Hesein, unionist and a syndicate member in Gharbeya. He asserted the necessity of organizing citizens and coordinating between all civil society forces to guarantee the best selection of candidates who will best represent the people in the local councils.

Then there was a general discussion among the attendances who asserted the necessity of taking part in these elections to improve their conditions. Some of them encouraged the idea of boycotting the elections, because the government as always will forge the elections for the favor of the National Party candidates. Therefore, any efforts spent in this process will be for nothing, and the people should focus ore on improving their conditions each one for his own sake.

The meeting ended with the conclusion of the necessity of raising people’s awareness during the upcoming period concerning this issue. And the LCHR will organize these meetings by holding weekly symposia in these ten governorates to improve the conditions of people’s participation in selecting their representatives in the local councils so that they could better solve their problems and improve their conditions by guaranteeing justice, equality and safety for everyone.

For more information, please contact the Center.


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