CAIRO: Democratic Front Party leader Osama Al-Ghazali Harb indicated his willingness to become his party’s candidate for the presidential elections in a debate with various opposition parties and groups.
Harb denied that there was any dispute with the Muslim Brotherhood regarding his candidacy, according to the online news portal Masrawy.
The former member of the policies committee of the ruling National Democratic Party called for ending the crackdown on the Brotherhood, adding that they are a viable political presence as evidenced by the 88 seats they attained in the 2005 parliamentary elections.
Various opposition members called for international monitoring of the upcoming parliamentary and presidential elections, stating that it does not constitute foreign intervention.
In a debate organized by Al-Dostour newspaper and hosting the likes of Harb and Muslim Brotherhood MP Hamdy Hassan, attendees argued for independent oversight of the elections, whether domestic or foreign.
Former member of the Judge’s Club Ahsraf Baroudy said, “The idea of intervention is not applicable to foreign observers because the votes are tallied by local bodies. If by intervention in elections you mean forging the results, then we have that already.
Additionally, many of the attendees pointed out the close ties of the regime with foreign powers, and wondered why that was not considered foreign intervention in domestic affairs. Advocacy groups maintain that fraud is prevalent in Egyptian elections.
Hassan said that the regime refused the monitoring of local human rights groups in the previous elections but welcomed it for the upcoming elections to prevent the presence of foreign observers.
Former Kefaya coordinator and member of the Campaign for Free and Fair Elections in Egypt George Ishak who was also present at the debate told Daily News Egypt that the campaign had sent invitations to groups such as the Carter Institute to monitor elections in Egypt.
“The groups then need to contact the Egyptian government who have the final say in whether they come or not, but the Egyptian government has been committing forgeries in elections for the past 50 years so they will probably refuse, he said.
“So we are betting on domestic observers and we are trying to organize a coalition of independent local observers to monitor the elections, Ishak added. Egypt will have parliamentary elections in late 2010 to be followed by the presidential elections in 2011. Before that the Shoura Council elections are scheduled for April 2010.