Foreign monitoring missions weigh in on presidential election
The European Union Election Observation Mission press conference - YOUM7/Dina Romeiah
By RANDA EL-BANNA

CAIRO:  The European Union Election Observation Mission (EU EOM) held a press conference Thursday to announce the results of its monitoring of this week’s Egyptian presidential election.

EU EOM Chief Observer Mário David of Portugal said the election was “in line with the law,” but “in an environment falling short of constitutional principles,” due to the election being extended one day.

Several national and international organizations observed the 2014 Egyptian presidential election in 2014, among them the EU EOM, the Arab League and the African Union.

David said there were some violations, but they were minor and did not negatively affect the impartiality of the elections. However, he also said there was a general climate of limited freedom of expression, and this resulted in journalists being unable to freely express their opinions.

David said the media was unfair promoting the two presidential candidates, as although government media gave equal coverage to both candidates, private media gave twice the attention and coverage to projected winner Abdel Fatah al-Sisi.

David also said the media’s coverage of women was lacking, as coverage of women’s participation was less than two percent of total coverage—ignoring approximately half of the electorate. Women, he said, have also been “severely underrepresented in public office,” as only 1.8 percent of the last parliament and less than one percent of judges were female. However, David said he is optimistic parliament will deal with the problem of women being underrepresented, especially among religious communities and ethnic minorities.

Finally, David said the election proceeded in a peaceful and calm manner across the country and that the counting of votes was well organized and orderly. He added the High Presidential Elections Committee (HPEC) informed the EU EOM that turnout was 47.3 percent of the total number of people entitled to vote.

Meanwhile, the Arab League monitoring mission announced Thursday that it detected some irregularities in the election, but not enough to negatively affect the election process. Among these irregularities were delays in opening some polling stations, failure to use election ink, using unsealed voting cards, not closing the voting boxes tightly, low youth participation, campaigning outside polling stations and some monitors not being allowed to follow up results.

On a positive note, the Arab League mission hailed security measures for all polling stations nationwide and the participation of women and the elderly, according to mission chairwoman Ambassador Haifaa Abu Ghazala of Jordan in a press conference Thursday.

The African Union mission headed by Mohamed Lamine Ould of Western Sahara also said the stations were highly secure, and praised the peaceful atmosphere of the voting.

Ould said in a press conference Thursday that the 45-member mission was still analyzing the election process and will issue its final results on June 3. A press conference to announce the results will be held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

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