CAIRO: Students affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood as well as other political parties were banned from running in the student union elections in Egypt’s public universities.
Forty university students affiliated with the banned but tolerated Brotherhood group were denied candidacy at Cairo University, as well as 170 students in Zagazig University and over 50 students in Helwan University.
Mohamed Hamama, a student at Mansoura University, told Daily News Egypt that all Brotherhood students were removed from the preliminary election lists.
The faculties of engineering and arts comprise the highest number of candidates, with 270 each out of a total of 1,176.
Candidates from other faculties ranged between 20 and 50.
The elections’ committees received 345 complaints.
After choosing union members, the heads of the various activities committees will be elected Wednesday. Each faculty’s student union president will be elected Thursday and the universities’ student union presidents will be chosen on Sunday.
Election campaigns were at full force at Cairo University as candidates hung posters and distributed fliers to students.
“The university s administration mistreated us; we weren t allowed to enter preliminary candidates lists. We also didn t have the right to challenge these decisions, Islam Tawfiq, spokesman for Brotherhood students at Cairo University, told Daily News Egypt.
The candidates who aren t [approved by] the university s administration and security bodies weren t allowed to run in the elections, Tawfiq added.
However, Osama Abdel Moneim, president of the student union at the Faculty of Commerce, said the students were disqualified because they didn t meet the criteria for candidacy, denying it was because of their affiliation with the Brotherhood.
“Brotherhood students are like other students, they can run in elections; however, some of them didn t have the activities certificates [documents which prove that the student had previously taken part in student activities] needed to register, he said.
However, Tawfiq maintains that the administration refused to give them the activities certificate that proves that they had participated in activities before.
He explained that their other option was to obtain the certificates from their schools but that they didn’t have enough time and so were unable to do so.
According to Tawfiq, the students weren’t given enough notice before the deadlines for applications and therefore couldn’t complete the required documents.
“First they refused to give us applications; we had to insist to get them. Then they gave us unstamped receipts or ones without serial numbers, Tawfiq said.
Students who run in elections must be over 16 years old, new in their academic year, and participants in extracurricular activities. They should also not have been subject to any previous sanctions or suspended from a student union.
Cairo University officials denied any interference in the elections.
The university doesn t interfere in any of the election phases, Adel Zayed, the University s vice president for students and education affairs said.
Candidates at a number of faculties in Cairo University, including the Faculties of Medicine, Urban Planning, Commerce and Architecture, won by recommendation even before the elections began due to the insufficient number of candidates.
Under election rules, faculty deans have the right to appoint students to faculty unions when at least 50 percent of the student body does not turn out to vote.
Students say that individuals appointed are invariably drawn from a list approved by security bodies.
Regulations say that there must be at least 56 candidates for the elections to take place but the number of candidates didn t exceed 55 in some faculties.
Students and teaching staff in Egyptian universities frequently complain of interference in academic affairs by interior ministry security bodies present on university campuses.
The Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE) organization said in a report last year that changes to the internal statute governing student elections have undermined students’ freedom to engage in political activity.