On Thursday the 31st of May 2007, the LCHR has held a workshop in its headquarter about the Consultative Council elections between the constitutional amendments and the absence of the judicial supervision and citizens’ participation.
The meeting was attended by 52 participants from 11 Egyptian governorates that included representatives from national associations, journalists, lawyers and researchers. 5 of them from Qena governorate, 4 from Daqahleya, 3 from Alexandria, 3 from Bany Swief, 5 from Fayoum, 9 from Giza, 6 from Qalubeya, 7 from Cairo, 3 from Sharqeya, 3 from Asiute and 4 from Sohag.
The meeting started with a word by Karam Saber, manager of the LCHR. He welcomed the participants and then spoke about the role of civil society organizations in following up the Consultative Council elections especially after the constitutional amendments.
Then, he introduced Mr. Samy Mahmoud, a journalist and a writer, and asked him weather the current status and conditions in Egypt will lead to democracy in Egypt?
Mr. Samy replied saying that Egypt lives under a system that includes a group of political parties, but the National Party is the only force that controls authority, and the last constitutional amendments didn’t do the judicial supervision any good concerning the electoral process. Then he spoke about the establishment of the Consultative Council in 1979 and its consultative role. Lately, there were calls to expand its competence and authority, which turns it away from its role of guidance concerning participation and the change process.
He said that during this electoral round the National Party has nominated 108 candidates to compete for 88 chairs, and he wonders weather the National Party is not confident in its candidates, which made it compete with two candidates for each chair.
Then he asked weather there will be a time when only the National Party competes for all chairs in every election, and the people and other political forces would become bystanders especially after many people and political forces have withdrawn from participation.
He said that the only role for the National Council for Human Rights is to follow up the electoral process not to supervise it and report the violations it finds, like excluding the heads of other political parties from participating in this electoral round.
At the end, he spoke about the nonexistence of women in the Consultative Council elections and the importance of activating their role and assigning them in the Council.
Then spoke Mr. Abdullah Al Ma’moun, a researcher and a school principle. He said that the amendment of article no. 76 made people imagine that the political life in Egypt was reborn and that the principle of the circulation of authority will be activated, but this amendment was to guarantee that the National Party candidates remain in their positions for life.
He said that he was a head of a committee in his village during the last presidential elections and that only 52 people entered the committee from a total of 2400, and before the end of the voting process, everyone was cleared out of the committee and the result was 75% for the favor of the National Party.
He said that other political parties have boycott the elections and the Muslim Brotherhood members are being arrested, and that all civil society organizations must raise people’s awareness and encourage them to rebuild the change process.
Then spoke Dr. Magdy Abdel Hamid, director of the Social Participation Association. He said that citizens must be trained on all types of participation, like the elections and supervising these elections.
He said that civil society organizations supervise elections for the following reasons:
· Exposing violations as they happen.
· Expand the participation of the people in the electoral process to reinforce this process.
· Make a positive interaction between citizens and the different authorities to change some old laws and systems.
Then spoke Mr. Said Abdel Hafiz, head of Multaqa Al Hewar Center for Development. He said that till the year 1995, the civil society had no idea about supervising elections but through politicians. Then the first supervising committee was formed by some activists who made the first supervising report exposing violations, and there were many harassments and pressure put on these activists so that they couldn’t issue this report, but at the end they succeeded in issuing it.
In the year 2000, there were legal amendments that state the judicial supervision over elections and there was a call to establish a new coalition to supervise the elections. And in the last parliamentary elections, the civil society supervision was through three coalitions and these organizations issued many reports exposing violations. He said that in the future, the sorting committees must have cameras inside them so that this process could be open for the public’s eye.
The participants asserted the necessity of improving people’s participation in the change process and build trust with the government by improving the political, economic and social atmosphere in the country to guarantee impartial and objective participation.
They asserted the necessity of stopping all forms of corruption, canceling the emergency law, releasing the detainees, canceling exceptional laws, allow citizens to establish independent parties, organizations and syndicates freely and without any interference, improving people’s livelihood conditions and guarantee their economic and social rights.
The participants also asserted the importance of following up elections and issue reports that monitor the conditions of participation and violations during the whole electoral process. And these reports must include recommendations for the elections management committee and the People’s Assembly to improve the conditions of participation and guarantee the impartiality of the electoral process for a country that guarantees all citizens a decent, safe and free life.
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