Judges reject future election monitoring amid fraud allegations

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By Heba Famy

CAIRO: Judges should refrain from future election monitoring in protest of the violations that took place during November’s parliamentary elections, said a memo filed by Judge Ahmed Mekky to the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC).

Mekky, who is the vice president of the Cassation Court and member of the SJC, filed the memo on Monday.

“The Administrative Court issued verdicts mandating the registration of candidates who were denied registration without any legal grounds, and these verdicts were ignored,” Mekky told Daily News Egypt.

“The Cassation Court ruled the invalidity of the elections in many constituencies, and its verdict wasn’t implemented by the People’s Assembly,” Mekky said. “So what’s the point in having judges supervising the elections? We should be excluded from the whole process.”

The Administrative Court had ordered the annulment of the elections in more than 90 constituencies.

The court described the elections in these constituencies as “unconstitutional” and “illegal” based on violations before and during the elections — including the elimination of candidates from registration lists without justification, denying the candidates’ representatives notarized permits to allow them into polling stations, and ignoring court orders.

Mekky also criticized the procedures used in assigning the judges to monitor this year’s elections in his memo, describing the process as “defective.”

According to Mekky, the Ministry of Interior is required to inform the SCJ of how many judges are needed in each constituency, and the SCJ is responsible for selecting which judges are assigned to each constituency.

“But this is not what happened in the previous elections,” Mekky stated. “Which means the SCJ abandoned its duties [by allowing the ministry to have a say in the selection of judges].”

This is the fourth memo Mekky has filed to the SCJ regarding these issues.

The Secretary General of the SCJ, Mohamed Eid Salem, denied the accusations last week after he received Mekky’s first two memos, stating that the memos merely reflected Mekky’s personal point of view.

The State Council’s Judges’ Club also decided to submit a memo on Sunday to the State Council which recommended that the judges avoid supervising any future elections. The Judges’ Club decided to submit the recommendation after many judges’ findings and court verdicts regarding the parliamentary elections were largely ignored.

“This [memo] shows [the judges’] anger regarding the violations that took place in the previous elections,” Mekky said.

Councilor Noha Al-Zeiny supported the judges’ demands.

“Having judicial supervision over the elections amid fraud and without having any legal guarantees for free and transparent elections is a disgrace to judges and to the whole judiciary system,” Al-Zeiny told Daily News Egypt. “I’ve been calling for this for a long time, ever since before the 2005 elections when election fraud was obvious.”

In 2005, there was direct supervision from judges over each ballot box in every polling station. But in this year’s elections, the judges stayed in the security directorate in each constituency and instead received complaints from observers and citizens.

However, Al-Zeiny believed that approving the judges’ demands and implementing them will prove to be a difficult task.

“There will be political pressure on the State Council and the SCJ to refuse the judges’ recommendations, especially with the presidential elections coming [in 2011],” she explained.

The ruling National Democratic Party swept the polls in this year’s parliamentary elections, winning 420 seats out of 508 amid accusations of widespread fraud and vote rigging.

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