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EU observer mission in Egypt launched ahead of presidential poll

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Sabahy and Al-Sisi continue campaigning

European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs & Security Policy Catherine Ashton met with Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy on 10 April.   (Photo by Pedro Luis Costa Gomes)

European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs & Security Policy Catherine Ashton met with Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy on 10 April.
(Photo by Pedro Luis Costa Gomes)

The European Union announced the launching of its observation mission in Egypt on Monday.

The mission is lead by Chief Observer Mario David, a Portuguese member of the European Parliament, according to a press release.

“It is the first time that the EU deploys an Election Observation Mission to Egypt. We are here to observe the election and we will not interfere or supervise the process in any way,” said David.

Ten analysts working with the mission arrived to Cairo in mid-April, while 30 observers arrived two weeks ago. An additional 60 “short-term observers” are scheduled to be deployed throughout Egypt during 26 and 27 May, when polling stations will open.

The mission will consist of approximately 150 observers from all 28 EU member states, Canada and Norway, announced the EU.

“The EU EOM will conduct a comprehensive analysis of the entire electoral process based on a long-term observation in line with domestic law as well as regional and international standards,” said the mission. “The analysis will include aspects such as legal framework, the performance of the election administration, the campaign activities of the candidates and political parties, the respect of fundamental freedoms, the access to and conduct of the media, the voting and counting, the complaints and appeals process, and the announcement of the results,” it added.

The mission stated that it would publish preliminary findings two days after election days. A subsequent final report by the mission is expected to be published and include recommendations “for possible improvements of future elections”.

In two separate ceremonies, Egypt and the EU signed two memoranda of understanding last month for presidential elections.

“The launching of this EOM is part of a much broader picture of continuous engagement with Egypt,” said Head of the EU Delegation to Egypt James Moran. “That engagement is profound, as shown most recently here by Catherine Ashton’s visit last Thursday. Election observation is an expression of the EU’s concern to support inclusive, transparent and credible elections as part of its policy to strengthen democracy, the rule of law and human rights.”

Deputy Chairman of the National Council for Human Rights (NCHR) Abdel Ghaffar Shukr froze his membership and position as Chairman of the Socialist Popular Alliance (SPA) on Sunday.

Chairman of the NCHR Mohamed Fayek, according to state-owned Al-Ahram, said Shukr made the decision for “the impartiality and independence of the NCHR in [presidential] elections”.

Vice Chairman of the SPA Medhat Al-Zahed assumed the chairmanship following Shukr’s decision.

The NCHR is set to monitor the upcoming presidential elections, and will have a central control room during the two days to monitor complaints and irregularities in the voting process.

Shukr’s SPA announced its support for Nasserist politician Hamdeen Sabahy in presidential elections late last month in a press conference in which Sabahy called Shukr one his “mentors”.

Sabahy’s opponent, heavily favoured former military chief Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi met with a delegation from the General Union of Pensioners and discussed ways to preserve insurance funds and pensions, according to a statement from his campaign.

Sabahy spent his Monday meeting with workers in the industrial Delta city of Mahalla.

This week Al-Sisi also met with a Sufi delegation and a group of Egyptian media personalities.

Al-Sisi continued gaining support from political parties on Sunday, when the Conference Party officially announced it would formally support the former Minister of Defence. He also won the support of the Salafi Al-Nour Party, the only major Islamist party expected to participate in upcoming elections. Al-Sisi is scheduled to have his first television interview on Monday evening.

The Muslim Brotherhood and the Anti-Coup Alliance, which still recognise ousted Mohamed Morsi as the legitimate president of Egypt, have announced that they will not take part in the elections and have deemed polls held by the current interim government “illegitimate”.

In 2012, Sabahy finished in third place behind Morsi and former Mubarak-era Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq. Al-Sisi, who was appointed Minister of Defence by Morsi in 2012, retired from the armed forces in March and announced he would compete in elections amid calls for him to run.


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