7,000 civil society members apply for permits to monitor elections

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By Heba Fahmy

CAIRO: Sixty-three civil society organizations have applied to the National Council for Human Rights Council (NCHR) for authorization to monitor the upcoming parliamentary elections on Nov. 28, NHRC vice chairman said on Wednesday.

Moqbel Shaker said that 7,000 observers affiliated with civil society organizations applied for permits to monitor the elections.

The council is currently reviewing the applications and will then send the approved applications to the Supreme Electoral Commission (SEC) to issue the permits on Nov. 20-23, according to Shaker.

However many civil society organizations applied directly to the SEC instead of going through the NCHR.

“There’s nothing in the law that obligates civil society organizations to apply through the NCHR to monitor the elections,” Hafez Abou Saeda, director of the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights (EOHR) and NCHR member, told Daily News Egypt.

“We [EOHR] insisted on applying directly to SEC and SEC approved,” he added.

“The NCHR is an incompetent mediator between civil society organizations and SEC,” Ahmed Fawzy, leading member of the Egyptian Association for Community Participation Enhancement, told Daily News Egypt.

Fawzy cited the Shoura Council elections which took place last June, where the NCHR rejected the applications of many civil society organizations including Fawzy’s organization

According to Abu Saeda, the requirements set by SEC in order to be authorized as an elections’ observer include being registered with the social solidarity ministry, being specialized in human rights and monitoring elections, and signing a statement guaranteeing the observers’ objectivity and integrity.

“These seem like very reasonable requirements, but I’m concerned that the SEC might resort to other [biased] governmental institutions to investigate the integrity and objectivity of the observers,” Fawzy said.

Fawzy added that the SEC might use this as an excuse to dismiss some applicants based on misleading information from government officials.

Fawzy also criticized the fact that the observers weren’t given permits until now.

“We are supposed to monitor the whole election process not just election day [Nov. 28],” Fawzy said.

“Observers from our organizations were monitoring the registration process for the elections [Nov. 3–7] when they were harassed by security forces for not having permits,” he added.

“We are usually given the permits one or two days before election day, which doesn’t give us time to monitor the campaigning process prior to the elections or even travel to distant governorates to monitor them on election day,” he said.



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