By Tamim Elyan
CAIRO: The Engineers’ Syndicate will hold its first elections in 18 years this September, as decided by an extraordinary general assembly attended by thousands on Friday.
A new board will be elected to replace judicial guardianship over the syndicate, in place since 1995. The door for candidate applications will open July 15.
More than 5,000 engineers attended the meeting at Cairo Stadium’s closed hall, where the general assembly — the second in 17 years — demanded replacing the guardianship with a committee to supervise the election of a new board.
The decision came despite an Administrative Court ruling Thursday that the general assembly be canceled due to flaws in procedures, a case filed by the syndicate’s current guardian, Abdel Mohsen Hamouda.
Elections will take place over two days through a paper ballot under judicial supervision.
The supervisory committee is headed by Mohamed Awny Agor with Imam Mohamed, Al-Sayed Samaha and Mahmoud Magdy as members. They will not be able to run as candidates for any post.
Participants at the general assembly refused suggestions for elections to take place in January using electronic voting as well as keeping the guardian as the head of the syndicate. They decided to ban him from spending on service projects until the date of the elections.
A lawsuit to cancel guardianship raised in 2006 is currently being examined by the cassation court. The guardian, appointed by a court order, can only be discharged with a court ruling.
According to Laws 100 and 105 of 1993, ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Constitutional Court last January, syndicate elections can only be initiated by a South Cairo judge rather than by the internal bylaws of each syndicate.
Under the overturned law, election results were only legitimate if at least 50 percent of members vote; otherwise another election must be held two weeks later — during which 30 percent of syndicate members were obligated to attend. If still less than 50 percent of members voted, a board of judges (guardian) would be appointed to run the syndicate.
The general assembly was called by Minister of Irrigation and Water Resources, Hussein Al-Atfy, legal head of the syndicate, in the absence of a board last April.
“There is no other way to manage engineering affairs in Egypt except through a real elected board,” Al-Atfy said during the assembly. “History will prove that engineers have a free will,” he added.
Though Thursday’s court ruling said the general assembly was procedurally flawed, Mostafa Al-Refaei, head of the general assembly and former minister of industry, told Daily News Egypt that top officials had told him to proceed with the meeting because the ruling was invalid.
“There was a flaw in Hamouda’s procedures as he didn’t inform Al-Atfy — his opponent in the case — so the ruling is meaningless,” Al-Refaei said.
Omar Abdallah, a leader at the Engineers Against Guardianship group, said the Engineers’ Syndicate must be involved in major national issues like the Nile Basin crisis and Pathway of Development project.
“These are all technical issues that must be handled by the syndicate,” he said.