A number of political parties announced they will participate in the upcoming parliamentary elections in North Sinai, despite ongoing security instability and curfew hours. On the other hand, one party found the environment unfavourable to elections.
Atef Hasona, legal consultant from the Patriotic Movement Party said that the party will run in the three North Sinai districts – Al-Arish; Rafah and Sheikh Zuweid; and Be’r Al-Abd. It will also run on the Egyptian Front Coalition list.
When asked about how the current insurgency will affect the electoral process, Hasona added that it will have a negative effect on both the voters and the candidates. “In tribal communities, discussion sessions usually take place after sunset. This has become impossible due to the curfew. This prevented many candidates from reaching out to the voters and explain their programmes,” he said.
He added that, for voters, the situation is intense as they fear retaliation from radical militants who may accuse them of participating in the elections or even campaigning for a certain candidate.
“It is expected that the governorate will merge the ballot boxes of Rafah and Sheikh Zuweid in one place under heavy security presence,” he clarified, adding that the main committees to count the votes may be transferred to Al-Arish where they will be heavily guarded by the army.
Hasona also pointed out that the current political scene does not encourage young people to run for parliament.
“Most of the scene is controlled by the tribes, who prefer to push elder men out of respect,” he said, demanding the appointment of a young representative in Sinai by President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi.
“This is necessary, especially after the country went through two revolutions,” he added.
When asked about other candidates running in the districts, Hasona added that Al-Nour Party is expected to compete for all seats. ”However, it faces much opposition from the liberal movements and the youth,” he said.
Meanwhile, Al-Karama Party’s member in North Sinai, Khaled Arafat, had previously informed Daily News Egypt of the party’s intention to boycott parliamentary elections in the governorate mainly, objecting to the imposition of long curfew hours.
“We held several meetings to discuss our rejection of some of the state’s policies regarding long curfew hours and the emergency law applied on us citizens of North Sinai,” Arafat said.
Curfew hours start from 7pm to 6am and were extended to 25 April. Many of the militant attacks happen during restricted hours.
The party member, along with members of Al-Wafd Party and other community representatives from civil groups and syndicates had agreed to start an open strike on 2 February and halt all commercial activity and transportation.
However, a major militant operation against police and army personnel on 29 January prevented the plan, but Arafat maintained that the party members in North Sinai do not want to participate in the elections. “We have informed the central bureau of the party in Cairo but they are yet to announce their final decision,” Arafat told Daily News Egypt on Saturday.
Arafat also said that he would not expect a high voting turnout in the elections as people are too worried about “their right to life” to consider politics. In the meantime, he said that elections in the governorate would probably see the participation of Al-Wafd and Al-Nour parties, but mostly former National Democratic Party members (NDP).
Al-Karama Party’s member, Amin Iskandar, also stated that the party members in North Sinai and in Alexandria refuse to participate in the elections, as the party generally opposes the political framework. “It is also evident that the state is directly interfering with candidacy,” Iskandar said in comments to Daily News Egypt, adding that the party’s meeting will decide between three options: partial participation for individual seats or complete withdrawal.