Rigging Elections Under the Supervision of the Judiciary

Rigging Elections Under the Supervision of the Judiciary




The Report of  the Deputy of the President of the Administrative Prosecution and    Member of the Judiciary, Dr Noha Al Zeini,  Who was  One of those Responsible for the Supervision of the General Elections at Damanhour Constitueny




Published in the “Al Masry Al Youm” Daily Newspaper on 24/11/2005 and 25/11/2005


I was there, I was part of the whole thing. This is a testament for truth’s sake; If I did not record  it down, I will be held accountable before God on the day of judgment. By what I wrote here, I do not intend to support or defame any party. It is merely a question of telling the truth, that I have devoted my life for, and a matter of  observing justice , that I vowed to abide by. Before all, it is a testament out of the fear from Allah, SWT, who Has ordered us never to conceal the word of truth, and to spell it out no matter how grave the price was. By Allah, SWT, we are of no good if we did not spell it out, and you are equally so  if you did not listen.


As a member of the Judicial authority,  I headed to Damanhour governorate as instructed by the Supreme Committee for Elections to take part in the supervision of the General  Elections that took part on 20/11/2005. The trip was comfortable in total as the Supreme Committee for Elections  facilitated it. It provided us will all expenses including travel fares,  top level accommodation, daily per diem , private transportation (our own cars with our own drivers), in addition to a couple of thousand Egyptian Pounds that were to be cashed to each of us later  as a bonus reward for our supervisory efforts and observance of the elections’ sincerity. All of the aforementioned were to be covered by  the state’s budget; in other words, financed by the taxpayer’s money; and who are they except those who willingly paid us to do our duties and protect their votes. Also to bear the responsibility of ensuring that their chosen Parliament members (rather than those chosen by the government ) are the ones who will represent them in the General assembly.


We started our work in the voting committees earlier on in the morning. The voting process started in the set time exactly. I presided over a voting sub-committee of the first district of  Damanhour’s constituency called “Damanhour Police Station.” As it seemed to me, the voting went as smoothly as it had been planned for. The candidates’ deputies and the representative of civil society organizations were all present. I thought that the entire process was as transparent as the ballot boxes. Actually there were few –albeit relatively- limited flaws. Security forces were notably efficient in the protection of the voting booths.


At noon, the media arrived. We –members of the judiciary- said what we saw. The whole process invited optimism and seemed to have been very  serious and straightforward.  On my part, I did my best to perform my duties and overcome the shortcomings that are mostly related to mistakes in the electoral lists (government prepared lists of eligible voters in a single electoral district) and the unavailability of the pink voting card ( a card that has to be obtained by a voter’s   I.D from the police station before being able to vote) with the majority of voters. However, I was confident that my colleagues in the other voting  sub-committee were doing their jobs with equal vigilance and honor.


After the voting was over, the sealed ballots were taken under guard by the security forces  to the General Committee for sorting. We –the members of Judiciary-accompanied the boxes. Under a single huge tent that was covered from the top and open from the sides,  the workers in each sub-committee started sorting their ballots in the presence of the candidates’ deputies. It was clear from the outset that the majority of votes were restricted to two candidates : Dr Mustapha Al Fikki from the National Democratic Party , and Dr Gamal Heshmat  (independent) who belonged to the Muslim Brotherhood or what is called “the religious current.” The sorting was public and was witnessed  by everyone. Gradually, it became clear that Heshmat was leading; as time went own he was sweepingly so with huge votes ahead. His deputies at all the sorting sub-committees were already celebrating. Meanwhile, stress and disappointment were apparently noted on the faces of Al Fikki’s deputies.


Al Fikki’s deputies started to stir up some troubles; however, everything went well as the heads of the sub-committees were done. They then handed the results to the General Committee. After that , most heads of sub-committees left the sorting tent; only few remained and I was one of them. Then, I was forced to leave. The General Committee then convened in a wide room that was closed to everyone. Only the heads of the sub-committees were permitted in just to hand the sorting reports and then leave. The General Committee’s president selected two of the heads of the sub-committees to join the General Committee; one of them was a member of the State Legal Cases Authority (the panel of state employed judges who defend it in legal litigation) . With all due respect to the Authority, it was well beyond my comprehension that a state lawyer and defender, became part of  an authority to  adjudicate and supervise the competition between two people whom one of represents the government?. Following are my remarks on what went on thereof.

1-I was one of the last heads of sub-committees , if not the last to hand in the sorting results. The reason was that I decided to repeat the sorting to ensure that no valid vote may be discounted or that no invalid vote may be counted.

2-The almost conclusive results from the sub-committees all pointed that at least 25 000 votes went to  Gamal Heshmat, while only 7000 at best estimates voted for Al Fikki.

3-During the process of adding the votes , Heshmat tried to be present inside the room where the General Committee was convened. He was barred and expelled out .

4- During the duration where I was present inside the General Committee –I stayed until all results were handed-I noted that some judges and others were using the mobile phones intensively. There were a lot of talks about the sweeping advance of Dr Gamal Heshmat; the word “sweeping” was repeated a lot to denote his advance.

5-I noticed that there were members from the Ministry of Interior with the General Committee . One in particular sat at the table where the votes were counted, and one member of the General  Committee whom I called upon for testimony,  informed me that he was from the State Security.

6- The president of the General Committee asked me to leave after a long time, so  I left while I was sure about the results. That is why I was surprised about the screams of suspicions coming out of the supporters of Heshmat outside the room as I tought they were exaggerating as usual. The victory of their candidate was almost a forgone conclusion foe all who took part in the process. This was a subject for many conversation inside the General Committee. One of the Committee’s members even said “the defeat of Al Fikki will turn the world upside down.”

7-Before getting done with the adding of votes, one of the Committee’s members left the room. He was a judge , and the same person who had testified before a short time to me,  when I summoned him up for that purpose, that there was a person from the State Security present  at the table with the Committee’s members . This in itself was a dangerous indication to me.


8-After I left , news of the recurrence of what happened  at Dokki district [1]in the first round of elections started reaching me with respect to Damanhour’s first district, and that it was  impossible to let Mustapha Al Fikki loose before Gamal Heshmat. Note that these were not opinions of voters, but opinions of the members of the Judiciary who were supervising the elections. I called upon them to tell the truth; and I hereby invite them to testify once more.

What preceded is my testament before the public, knowing precisely what kind of troubles it could bring on me. Yet, what could one win if he won the whole world but lost his own conscience? T o spare any political shows, I would like to say that I disagree with the Muslim Brotherhood organization with regards to many of their orientations and views. In terms of the personal merit, I do believe that Dr Gamal Heshmat is a respectable person. I had hoped that he would not repeat the experience of running for elections after all the troubles he went through in the last session of parliament. However, as he has already presented himself for elections, we should respect his supporters will, and above all carry the responsibility delegated to us as neutral supervisors.


As for you, men of the Judiciary who are our hope for a better world; you have spoken a lot about the “standing  up” judiciary versus the “subservient” judiciary. You had cast a lot of doubts on the sincerity of many judges. Yet, you forgot the “tucked down” judiciary. I fear that this third category   will spread more until it becomes dominant. I will not decline from the term “tucked down” judiciary and apologize because you know it is a correct description. In 1969, the Judges walked out from the “massacre” heads up and proud, unshaken by the assassination of their immunity or severance of their careers and financial resources. They nevertheless remained the best protectors of truth and justice. Unfortunately though, some of those who were not terrorized by coercion  , were rather lured and conceded  by the rewards , benefits, and sabbatical posts in the executive authority. Under the executive authority’s power everyone –whether “stand up” judges or  “subservient” judges-turn into  mere subordinates who answer the demands of the executive ministers. They  tuck down before ministerial direction and bow as they become more and more keen to maintain their ludicrous material gains which replaced their independence , pride, and refrain from suspicious acts.


From this platform,  I testify with what I had observed in the incident of election fraud in the first district of the Damanhour constituency. I also, call upon and urge all those who have witnessed and taken part of the incident to come upfront  with their testimonies too. One of them told me that he could not sleep after he saw what had happened. I moreover, urge the Judges not to participate in the supervision of elections until they get their real independence that would give them complete control over the entire electoral process from A-Z. To relate fraud to others is better than to relate it to them (the Judges).


I say this and upon conclusion ask Allah SWT that He may grant me and yourselves forgiveness. Yet, I will not ask Him SWT to forgive those who committed the rigging, took part in it, or were present and approved it, unless they revert to their conscience and tell the truth . They should realize that whatever happens to me or to them is only according to God’s Will and Ordain.

[1] The votes in Dokki were clearly rigged in favor of NDP’s candidate Amal Othman against the candidate of the Islamic current Hazem Abu Ismael.