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Political chaos overshadowed elections

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The Carter Centre reports that a chaotic political climate overshadowed Egypt’s elections

Former US President Jimmy Carter founded the Carter Centre to oversee the effectiveness of election processes in chaotic contexts.What they found in their mission in Egypt was not only po- litical chaos but the heavy shadow of the Supreme Council ofArmed Forces over the presidential run-off round. The Carter Centre released a preliminary report on the elections late Tues- day in which they started by the issue of the Supreme Council of Armed Forces’ (SCAF) constitutional decree, giving it observed weight. According to the re- port,“true and full democratic transition is not only guaranteed through conducting free and fair democratic elections. It must come through the democratic election of a civilian government,with full authority over the military”.

Yet, in light of the SCAF’s constitu- tional decree and the recent dissolution of Parliament, the Carter Center questioned the SCAF’s intentions to fully transfer power in the end of the running month.

Though preliminary, the report was sure to pinpoint several downsides to the electoral process in the run-off round of elections as well. It criticized the Presidential Election Commission’s (PEC) “excessive powers” which could be offset by improved transparency on the part of the PEC, a criteria which the PEC frequently failed to reach.

One complaint echoed by the Elec- toral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa (EISA) as well was the un- availability of voter lists to them and to the monitors working for the candidates. Moreover, the Carter Centre also re- ported rampant illicit influence of voters, unrealistic – as well as lacking – campaign finance  regulation, military  personnel subjection of international observers to “heightened scrutiny and intimidation” in isolated instances, and continued constraints on domestic observers. A positive observation in the report did praise the provision of polling station and District General Committee level results to candidates’ agents, noting that it boosts the transparency of the process.

The Carter Centre stressed that they were not able to produce a comprehensive report due to restrictions imposed on them and other observers by the PEC such as not allowing observers inside polling stations for more than 30 minutes, prohibiting the release of statements prior to polling and denying witnessing the final aggregation of the results.

Similarly, Amnesty International also released a report this week regarding the impact of SCAF’s constitutional de- cree. The report strongly denounced the step, foreseeing it as a green light for the SCAF to exercise further human- rights violations through its iron-fist military rule.

“The Egyptian army – with its poor human rights record – should in no circumstances have the powers of ar- rest, detention and investigation over civilians”. Philip Luther, Amnesty Inter- national’s Director for the Middle East and North Africa, said in the report.

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