CAIRO: The People’s Assembly has approved members chosen to head the Supreme Electoral Committee for a five-year term which will oversee the 2011 presidential elections.
The appointees will assume their post for the mandated five years starting July 5. The appointment of such a committee comes after the removal of judicial supervision on elections in the constitutional amendments of 2007.
Sherif Azer from the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights told Daily News Egypt, “The idea of the committee is to replace judicial supervision of elections and that’s the problem. It’s already a negative and they will not be representing the independence of the judiciary.”
In 2000, the Supreme Court ruled that according to Article 76 of the Egyptian constitution, judicial supervision of elections was mandatory. The article, which also governs the eligibility of presidential candidates, was among the 34 articles amended in 2007.
As part of the amendment to the article, judicial oversight of elections was no longer a requirement.
Nabil Abdel-Fatah from Al Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies told Daily News Egypt, “This committee is a result of the 2007 amendment of article 76 and is supposed to supervise the presidential elections. The regime resorted to this measure to give the impression that there is judicial oversight of elections while it has actually removed it.”
Yet the amendment has “stirred a huge political debate,” he added, “regarding the eligibility of presidential candidates and the need for judicial oversight.”
The recently formed National Association for Change and its figurehead former IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei have called for amendments to Article 76 among others and the necessity of judicial monitoring of elections within their stated list of demands.
The three appointed members to the committee are former head of the Cairo Appeals Court Emad Mahmoud Ismail, constitutional law scholar Hassanein Abdel-Aal and former head of the State Case Authority Milad Sidhom.
The reserve members are Aly Hassan Al-Ashmawy, another former head of the Cairo Appeals Court, former head of Cairo University and professor of criminal law Hassanein Ebeid and former health minister Ibrahim Badran.
Noting that some of them were government appointees and none of them held current judicial posts, Azer said, “If they’re going to bring in civilians then they could have included at least one member from a rights group. There should at least have been one civil society appointee, even as an observer.”
A similar committee had overseen the Shoura Council elections earlier this month but opposition candidates and their delegates complained of numerous violations by the ruling National Democratic Party.
Complaints were submitted to the election’s supreme electoral committee that investigated the allegations and declared most of them to be unfounded.
“The presidential elections are too big for a committee to oversee. A truly neutral judicial authority with guaranteed independence and a mandate over security forces is needed to monitor the presidential election,” Abdel-Fatah said.