Immunity for SEC decisions continues to draw heated debate
Egypt's Interim President Adly Mansour - YOUM7 (Archive)

CAIRO: The presidential decree granting immunity to the decisions of the Supreme Electoral Commission (SEC) continues to be the source of dispute among politicians and political powers, with many maintaining that it is unconstitutional, while others maintaining that it is well within the legal framework.

The decree was issued on March 8, in conjunction with interim President Adly Mansour’s declaration of the presidential elections law.

“Granting immunity to the Supreme Electoral Commission corresponds completely with the law and the constitution,” former head of the Appeals Court and the Supreme Judicial Council Ahmed Medhat al-Maragy stated Friday.

In an interview with al-Qahira wal-Nas, Maragy called on people to focus instead on the presidential elections, noting that the elections could have been completed by now if it were not for this continued debate over the decree to grant immunity.

As it stands, the decree opposes Article 97 of the constitution, which stated that “any stipulation of immunity of any act or administrative decision from the control of the judiciary is prohibited.”

However, various prominent party members have expressed support for the decision, stating that the decision to grant immunity does not conflict with the constitution, particularly in light of current circumstances.

Deputy head of the Nour Party Ashraf Thabet said Wednesday that the party had initially rejected the decree, but now believes that such a decision is “logical,” since without it the election process could be impeded, reported Al-Wafd newspaper.

Shehab Wagih, spokesperson of the Free Egyptians Party, told Youm7 on March 13 that Mansour’s legal and constitutional grounds for granting immunity to the SEC were “convincing and logical.”

On the other hand, constitutional jurist Ibrahim Darwish said the presidential elections law contradicts six articles in the constitution and violated two judicial authorities, reported Al-Masry Al-Youm Wednesday.

Darwish also said the law prevents the Supreme Constitutional Court from issuing verdicts on appeals, and he demanded that  Mansour amend the law immediately.

Furthermore, there are those who state that the decree grants the SEC judicial standing, the implications of which raise questions over the position which the SEC takes within the judicial framework.

“The decisions of the SEC’s sub-committees could be challenged before the General Committee, whose decisions could be challenged before the SEC itself,” head of the Constitutional Court Maher al-Beheiry told Al-Masry Al-Youm in February.

“The SEC is comprised of judges who are equal to the judges of the Supreme Administrative Court, before which the SEC’s verdicts would be liable to be challenged if not for the decision granting them immunity,” Beheiry added.

Meanwhile, the constitutional advisor to the president, Ali Awad Saleh, told Youm7 that President Mansour would direct a statement Saturday to political parties objecting to the presidential elections law, to address the concerns raised over granting immunity to Supreme Electoral Commission’sdecisions.

Mansour held a meeting March 12 in the presidential palace with political parties to discuss objections to article 7 of the presidential elections law.

The parties in turn sent the president a letter on March 17, demand Mansour amending article 7 in order to allow presidential candidates to appeal the SEC’s official candidates list within two days of its announcement.

Egyptian law has previously granted the right to appeal the final decisions of the SEC, in cases of suspected fraud or corruption.

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