HPEC eager to inform public Egypt is ‘moving forward democratically’
YOUM7 (Archive)
By HANAN FAYED

CAIRO: The High Presidential Election Commission (HPEC) is eager to inform public opinion at home and abroad that Egypt is moving forward in the roadmap with “steady and democratic steps,” HPEC head Anwar al-Assy said in a press conference Sunday.

 Having signed a memorandum with the European Union on observing Egypt’s presidential elections, the EU delegation in Egypt is allowed to move freely in the country and to contact all parties, presidential candidates and civil society organizations, said Assy.

 Assy added that EU observers are allowed access into polling stations and to request any information related to the elections.

 Presidential candidates are equal before the committee, which does not distinguish between candidates, Secretary General of HPEC Abdel-Aziz Salman said at the conference.

 Minister of Justice Nayyer Othman told Hayat TV Sunday that the state is “keen on the transparency and integrity of the elections,” welcoming international monitoring of the process.

 The Supreme Electoral Committee (SEC) licensed 6,000 monitors to observe the constitutional referendum in January 2014, 790 of whom were foreigners affiliated with six “high-profile international organizations,” according to Ahram Online.

The U.S.-based Democracy International (DI) was the largest international observation mission to the 2014 referendum with over 80 observers, according to a DI statement published on Jan. 17.

 “There was no real opportunity for those opposed to the government’s roadmap or the proposed constitution to dissent,” DI’s statement said.

 “This constrained campaign environment made a robust debate on the substance and merits of the constitution impossible,” the statement added.

 DI noted some electoral violations, saying that “there is no evidence that such problems substantially affected the outcome of this referendum, but they could affect the integrity or the credibility of more closely contested electoral processes in the future.”

 DI ended the statement with some recommendations, including reviewing and amending the protest law, ending the “crackdown on dissenting voices,” promoting broader political participation in the lead up to future elections and promoting political reconciliation.

 The Carter Center did not deploy observers in the 2014 constitutional referendum, but rather “deployed a team of electoral experts to assess Egypt’s constitutional-building process.”  The center did not observe the 2012 constitutional referendum either, because of “the late release of regulations for accreditation of witnesses,” precluding the center from “conducting a comprehensive assessment,” according to its website.

 The deadline for media outlets to request permits to cover the presidential elections is April 17, HPEC said in a Sunday statement.

 The presidential elections will be held May 26-27 in Egypt, and May 15-18 for Egyptians living abroad. Approved presidential candidates will be announced by HPEC on May 2.

 The high profile candidates who have declared their presidential bid so far are Field Marshal Abdel-Fatah al-Sisi and Hamdeen Sabbahi, who ran for president in 2012.

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