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Are there serious doubts regarding the integrity of presidential elections?

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Farid Zahran

Farid Zahran

Some friends and relatives are surprised at those who question the integrity of the coming elections and wonder why they keep raising doubts concerning their democracy. And if so, what is the available evidence that the elections will be conducted in an undemocratic atmosphere? The truth is, there is serious doubt-raising evidence concerning the coming presidential elections.

The first piece of evidence: issuing a law that restricts the right to demonstrate instead of regulating it. The law that was issued on 24 November 2013 gave the administration the right to grant permission or refuse any protest instead of allowing people to give notice and the administration to judicially appeal against protests. This restriction is the same as the one that resulted from the law put by the British colonial administration decades ago, and which was rejected by the democratic entities at the time. This law resulted in a wave of protests which in the past, people–including the army and the former regime– regarded as legitimate because they were against the Muslim Brotherhood or Mubarak and their regimes. Interestingly enough, the security apparatus did not only apply the law violently, but also made sure to target this sort of violence against the young revolutionaries of 25 January particularly. They were the same people who played pivotal roles not only in the 25 January Revolution, but also in the 30 June Revolution.

In short, this law was put forth to prevent any political resistance against the administration from protesting. If the current Minister of Interior Mohamed Ibrahim applied the same law during the wave of protests of 30 June, Egypt would have been still under the rule of the Muslim Brotherhood.

The second piece of evidence: the increase in random arrests pending investigation and based on reports from the security apparatus rather than concrete evidence. This wave of random arrests has resulted in restraining the freedom of thousands of young, innocent Egyptians, particularly those living in small cities, rural villages and urban slums. This has raised many concerns, especially since the security apparatus usually deals with them very violently and some officers on purpose revert to old practices at police stations in an attempt to regain their former relationship with the Egyptian people during the Mubarak regime. It is the kind of relationship that depends on breaking the spirit of the Egyptian citizen through constant humiliation, oppression and possible torture inside the police stations.

The third piece of evidence: the human rights organisations’ reports, especially the National Council for Human Rights which confirmed the practice of systemised torture in most holding cells. To those who think that these organisations are tainted, I would like to remind you that during the Mubarak regime, he used to accuse these organisations of the same allegations when they used to issue data regarding the falsification of elections of the 2010 parliament. At the same time, the Brotherhood, democratic entities and enemies of Mubarak inside the state used to deem these organisations as honest and praise their reports. I also remind you that in 2012, the Brotherhood also accused these organisations of the same charges when they issued reports regarding the falsification of the 2012 referendum on the constitution.

Lastly, one should note that the National Council for Human Rights is part of the state and regime and we cannot accuse it of the same allegations as independent NGOs.

The fourth piece of evidence: the media’s siding with the former regime powers and its general direction has angered many due to its hypocrisy and the general air of accusation and attack of anything or anyone who criticises the administration. The current media policy, which excludes the resistance, has led many to refuse to participate or even care about political events due to being fed up and disgusted with the media. They have deduced that there is no hope for change since like it or not, Al-Sisi will win in the coming elections. Knowing the result beforehand means that many will not bother to participate in the coming elections.

The fifth piece of evidence: the general mood of the country is an extension of the same mood of the 2014 referendum on the constitution. I was one of those who supported the constitution. However, many have reported that the mood was an undemocratic one. Visual media had been careful not to include any representation of those against the constitution. In addition, the security apparatus arrested many young activists from Misr Al-Qawia (Strong Egypt) Party and the socialist revolutionaries with the charge of propagating a “no vote” on the constitution. This has led many young Egyptians to refuse to participate in the referendum as they considered it a farce with a known result.

The sixth piece of evidence: the consistent attack on democracy and the political parties which started a few months ago. The attack mainly zeroed in on the leaders of the democratic movement and was led by the symbols of the former regime and the supporters of the old state. Specifically the attack was on the people who were part of the post 30 June government – El-Beblawi’s cabinet – which was formed out of the alliance that brought down the Muslim Brotherhood and that also put the roadmap. The 30-member cabinet included eight people who were part of the National Salvation Front. The supporters of the old regime blamed these eight ministers and El-Beblawi for anything that the country experienced.

The sweeping majority that cares for public affairs realise that El-Beblawi and the ministers of the NSF were minor partners in the administration of the country according to the balance of powers in the 30 June alliance that brought down the Muslim Brotherhood. This majority understands that as minor partners they could never force their will over the state’s apparatus. This attack was really about the dissolution of the 30 June alliances and regaining the practices of the old state and its symbols as well. Supporters of the old regime were successful in achieving that as the cabinet resigned and Mehleb was assigned as prime minister. This confirmed that the exclusion that was applied on the political Islamists that were not involved in violence or incitation has now extended to the entire democratic movement. This mood of exclusion can be regarded as undemocratic atmosphere.

The seventh piece of evidence: the presidential elections law’s draft which was given to the political society without immunisation of the electoral committee’s decisions. The immunisation was formerly instated by the Muslim Brotherhood. However, we were surprised that the final version of the law which was not submitted for revision for the political society, did not only include the immunisation, but also included an extra article concerned with the physical condition of the candidates.

Immunisation is against the new constitution. Even though the same electoral committee is residing over the elections, it was never mentioned that the committee will conduct itself according to the old constitution. It is obvious that the committee should abide by the new constitution. The idea that appeals on the committee’s decision will prolong the elections is not true. Constitutional experts headed by Dr Noor Farhat explained that it is possible to open the possibility for appeals for a period of two weeks only. Lastly, claiming that the committee is judicial is not true because the committee is not concerned with conflicts between individuals. Therefore, even if the committee’s members are judges, the committee itself is not part of the judicial system because in this case they are performing an administrative task only, therefore immunising their decisions is not permissible.

Does this evidence raise doubts concerning the democracy and integrity of the general political atmosphere in which the presidential elections shall be conducted?

About the author

Farid Zahran

Farid Zahran is a publisher and writer. He is the co-founder of the Egyptian Social Democratic Party


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