CAIRO: The method in which candidate applications are received for Shoura Council (Upper House of Parliament) mid-term elections violate international standards for holding free and fair elections, a rights report said.
The most evident violation is the prevention of several candidates from submitting their nomination papers, said the report that the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights issued on Tuesday.
The report detailed “a number of violations”, including security surrounding the offices responsible for receiving applications and preventing opposition and independent candidates from submitting their papers, especially members of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Security, the report continued, has even detained some candidates for several hours and released them after the doors for receiving applications were closed.
The Shoura mid-term elections, which will take place this June, are considered to be a prelude to the People’s Assembly (Lower House of Parliament) elections, scheduled for later this year, as well as the Presidential elections in 2011.
The amendment to article 76 in the constitution, regulating candidacy for the presidential elections, has made representation in legislative councils crucial to presidential candidates. For a political party to nominate one of its members, it has to have three percent of elected seats in the upper and lower houses of parliament. Independent presidential candidates have to secure 250 endorsements from members of the People’s Assembly (PA), Shoura Council and municipal councils, including at least 65 signatures from the PA, 25 from Shoura and 160 from municipals.
The report added that Egyptians have a constitutional right to run in elections, according to article 62, which states that "citizens shall have the right to vote, nominate and express their opinions in referendums according to the provisions of the law. Their participation in public life is a national duty,” the report said.
The report said that the Shoura elections are taking place amid a tense political scene, “as the number of protests and sit-ins escalate while the situation on the Egyptian street deteriorates.”
According to the report, 576 submitted their papers, 67 of which were rejected. Now 509 candidates will be contesting 88 seats in 76 constituencies. The opposition is represented through 45 candidates: 11 from the Tagammou Party, 10 from Al-Wafd and 14 from the Muslim Brotherhood.
The report made several recommendations that would guarantee the integrity of the elections, including the annulment of all obstacles preventing the establishment and activity of political parties; terminating the emergency law, the amendment of the Penal Code with regards to election crimes; passing laws that organize the supervision of elections through civil society; establishing a system that would protect voters and the judicial monitors and ensuring police neutrality during the elections.