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Egyptian student groups condemn ministerial decision to rerun student union elections

Aswat Masriya , Friday 25 Dec 2015
Ashraf El-Sheihy
Higher Education Minister Ashraf El-Sheihy (Photo: Courtesy of Ministry of Higher Education official Facebook page)
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Various student movements denounced on Thursday the ministry of higher education’s decision to dissolve Egypt’s newly elected country-wide student union, claiming the ministerial decision was made after independent student representatives won a large number of seats.
 
In a collective statement, the student groups called on Ashraf El-Sheehy, the minister of higher education, to step down, adding that the ministry is directly interfering in, directing, and stalling student politics. 
 
“Allowing Ashraf El-Sheehy to continue means allowing the corruption to continue,” the statement read.
 
In addition, the statement accused the ministry of creating an entity called the “Voice of Egyptian Students,” that "was realistically the voice of the ministry."
 
Meanwhile, a committee in charge of student elections within the ministry of higher education announced on Thursday that the decision to hold re-elections came after the ministry looked into appeals submitted to them by the Zagazig University student union.
 
El-Sheehy said that university-level student union elections were transparent, but that the concern is with Egypt’s larger student union.
 
“For each university, we have reliable student union,” he said adding that the elections for the country-level student union have to be re-done because of “procedural mistake.”
 
Two independent students, Abdallah Nour and Amru El-Helw, won the the seats of president and vice president respectively. 
 
The Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE) said in a statement that the results for the executive of office of Egypt’s student union were a “nightmare”  for the ministry of higher education because the “Voice of Egypt’s Students” was unable to win seats, while independent students won a large number of seats.  
 
According to the AFTE statement, the election results were stalled because the "Voice of Egypt's Students," an enitity also backed Future of a Nation Party, failed to win seats. 
 
Student elections this year took place after a halt on elections began in 2013.
 
The elections took place on 16 November.
 
Cairo University president, Gaber Nassar, previously told Aswat Masriya that student elections will be conducted in accordance with the university bylaws and the university administration will not interfere in the process. 
 
The Muslim Brotherhood, 6th of April, and Revolutionary Socialists were all banned from student union elections.
 
A number of state-owned universities, such as Cairo University, banned all on-campus student politics in 2014.
 
Nassar told the state-run MENA news agency at the beginning of the academic year in 2014 that politically-motivated student activities cause distraction from "the educational pathway."
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