By: Ali Omar
A spokesperson at the Ministry of Social Solidarity has stated that 40 national and seven international NGOs will take part in monitoring the upcoming constitutional referendum on 14 and 15 January.
The spokesperson said that 40 of 67 local NGOs that applied were accepted. There were three standards: ability to monitor or experience in monitoring referendums, strong financial and administrative backing, and the absence of association to any of the 1054 Muslim Brotherhood-associated organisations whose assets were recently frozen.
Foreign NGOs must be vetted by the Supreme Electoral Commission (SEC). It is unclear how many applied.
Democracy International (DI) is the largest foreign NGO monitoring the referendum. Cherif Barakat, DI’s communications director, said that though the group has not taken part in past Egyptian referendums, “DI was invited to be accredited to observe the upcoming constitutional referendum by the SEC”.
Eighty international observers from DI “were selected based on their experience observing elections around the world either with DI or with other credible observation missions” and are all volunteers, Barakat said. The observers will be posted at polling stations in 23 governorates.
DI started making preparations for the referendum in early December, before the dates for the referendum were announced.
The organisation will issue a statement shortly after the referendum followed by a full report afterwards. “The statements that we publish will be public for all stakeholders to consider,” Barakat said.
The Carter Center, an NGO which oversaw parliamentary and presidential elections in 2011 and 2012, chose not to send monitors to oversee the 2014 referendum. Instead, the Center is monitoring political developments surrounding the referendum and its immediate impact on the country with a “limited scope”.
Egyptian nationals abroad are scheduled to vote in the referendum from 8 to 12 January.
An estimated 54 million citizens are eligible to vote on 14 and 15 January.