Local NGOs lament short registration period to monitor elections
An Egyptian casts his vote - YOUM7

CAIRO: The Ministry of Solidarity started Sunday receiving local NGOs requests to monitor forthcoming parliamentary elections, where many of them lament a short period provided for registration process.

The ministry established an operation room that will be tasked with providing local NGOs, which meet required conditions, a permit or a certificate to observe the elections,  scheduled to start in Egypt on March 22.

To be able to participate in monitoring the elections, local NGOs must receive a permit from the Ministry of Solidarity and then submit a request to the High Elections Committee (HEC,) head of Egyptian Organization for Human Rights (EOHR) Hafez Abu Seada told The Cairo Post Sunday.

The operations room at the Ministry of Solidarity will provide a certificate for NGOs that provides a proof that it still active, does not violate the law and registered under 2002 NGO law, according to a statement released by the Ministry of Solidarity and published on Al-Shorouq.

Besides the conditions of 2002 law registration, the HEC sets other conditions for local NGOs in order to be able to monitor the parliamentary elections, including: having a “good reputation, being known for impartiality” and having a previous experience in monitoring elections. For international NGOs, the conditions included expertise and reputation.

The 2002 law has been a point of argument between civil organizations and the Ministry of Solidarity, as the law is believed to turn independent NGOs to quasi-government bodies. Recent steps taken by the government by setting registration deadline to NGOs under the controversial law have also widen the concerns and led to many organizations to shut down and halt their activities.

The prerequisite of being registering under the 2002 law to monitor elections is not “new,” according to Ayman Okeil, the manager of the Maat Organization. Maat and EOHR are among the organizations that have participated in monitoring many past elections in Egypt.

Okeil and Abu Saeda voiced their objection, like many other organizations, to the “short” period given to NGOs to be register to monitor elections.

“The given time is too tight as there are two procedures each NGO should pass through to be licensed, and each will take some time,” said Abu Saeda.

The HEC opened the window for NGOs to register to monitor elections on Jan. 12 and it is scheduled to close on Jan. 20.

Furthermore, a number of local organizations have lamented the “slow pace” of the processing of their requests at the Ministry of Solidarity, and many of them requested the HEC to extend the registration period.

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