The Supreme Electoral Commission (SEC) announced Monday that the application window for NGOs wishing to monitor the upcoming parliamentary elections will open on Tuesday.
NGOs will be given until 20 January to submit their applications, which will allow them to monitor the elections.
Accepted NGOs are expected to receive their permits between 4 February and 14 March. Moreover, NGO representatives who will be allowed to monitor the elections should also individually register on the SEC’s official website before 31 January, state-owned media Al-Ahram reported Monday.
According to the SEC’s requirements, NGOs should be officially registered with the Ministry of Solidarity and have a ‘reputable’ history and previous experience in electoral coverage. Individuals representing those NGOs during the elections should also be registered on the voters’ database and have no criminal records.
Hafez Abu Seada, Egyptian Organization for Human Rights (EOHR) Chairman and senior member of the state-affiliated National Council for Human Rights (NCHR) told Al-Hayat TV channel Monday that NGOs needed some time to obtain a required verification certificate from the ministry. He added that they only begin issuing these following the SEC’s announcement.
No major international organisation has so far announced its desire to observe the elections. The Carter Center, a major international observer in the presidential elections, announced last October that it was not going to deploy an observation delegation to parliamentary elections. The center said this was due to a “a political space that has narrowed for civil society, which also led to the closing of their office in Egypt”.
Ministry of Social Solidarity Senior Representative Kamal El-Sherif told Daily News Egypt it was too early to determine the number of monitoring NGOs. It was also too early to organise a monitoring committee from different state ministries, as they did during the presidential elections of 2014.
The SEC had established a set of rules and regulations to organise the observation process on 17 December. One of its articles stated that observers are not to exceed half an hour inside polling stations. It also granted the judge presiding the polling station the right to further cut that time short or deny the observer entrance depending on his personal judgment of “how the observer’s presence could obstruct the electoral process”.