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Egypt's NEC to announce timeline of this year's presidential election next Monday

The NEC said it is keen on ensuring full transparency in the lead-up to Egypt's 2018 presidential elections

Gamal Essam El-Din , Tuesday 2 Jan 2018
File photo: Women cast their votes at a polling centre during a referendum on Egypt's new constitution in Cairo January 14, 2014 (Photo: Reuters)
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Egypt's National Electoral Commission (NEC) said Tuesday that the timeline of the country's 2018 presidential election will be made public at a press conference next Monday.

"All the details on this election's timeline will be made public next Monday because the NEC is keen that all measures are announced in a clear and transparent way," the commission's spokesman Mahmoud El-Sherif told reporters.

El-Sherif also indicated that "the two laws on exercise of political rights and terrorist entities" will be implemented when reviewing the list of presidential candidates. "Those who were finally convicted of committing terrorist crimes or who were found guilty of perpetrating ethical crimes will be banned from registering as presidential candidates or voting in the polls," said El-Sherif.

On Monday, MP Amal Rizkallah said in a statement that NEC should make sure that "those who were finally convicted of committing terrorist crimes are removed from the voting lists."

"As presidential and municipal elections are due to be held in Egypt in 2018, the NEC, which is constitutionally authorized with supervising all elections, must make sure that convicted terrorists and criminals will not be allowed vote or run in these elections," she added.

Rizkallah argued that the law on terrorist entities (law no. 8/2015) clearly states that "those who were designated as terrorists or members of terrorist organizations or placed on the travel ban lists, or prevented from entering the country, or who had their travel passports withdrawn, or were not allowed to have new travel passports, or lost the stipulation of good reputation, shall not be allowed to join parliament or take charge of public posts."

The MP said the above article means that Muslim Brotherhood members who were involved in terrorist crimes cannot run in any coming elections.

El-Sherif's statement comes four days after NEC head Lasheen Ibrahim told Al-Ahram newspaper that the timeline will soon be made public in a press conference.

The announcement is in line with Article 140 of Egypt's 2014 constitution, which states that "all the measures necessary for the country's presidential election to be held should be completed and made public 120 days ahead of the voting day," said Ibrahim, adding that "this means that the timeline should be announced as soon as possible in order for the vote to be conducted on time next April."

According to Ibrahim, Egypt's presidential election will be held in the second half of April and "that by 3 May 2018 – or one week before the Muslim holy month of Ramadan – a president of Egypt should have been elected."

Ibrahim also indicated that the commission, which is fully in charge of supervising all of Egypt's elections and referendums, is currently involved in updating the country's voter lists as an initial move necessary to guarantee the integrity of the coming polls. "An estimated number of 60 million Egyptians will be entitled to vote in the coming presidential poll," said Lasheen, adding that "the updating of voter lists will continue until the ballot day is announced by NEC."

Egypt's NEC includes ten senior judges and is led by Ibrahim, who is the senior deputy chairman of the country's court of cassation.

Ibrahim revealed that NEC is probing the possibility of increasing the number of polling stations in order to make it much easier for citizens to vote. "Besides, electronic voting will be allowed for the first time in the coming poll, even though this will be on a limited scale," said Ibrahim.

The NEC head insisted that in accordance with the constitution, all polling stations will be placed under the complete supervision of judges. "We are committed to implementing the principle 'a judge for every voting box' in the coming presidential election. In addition to judges, local and foreign civil society organizations will be also welcomed to monitor the poll."

"All the licenses and permits necessary for this will be issued, not to mention that all media outlets will be given a free hand to cover the polls.

"The polls' voting card" has already been selected by the NEC. "It has a certain design that will make it impossible for anyone to forge or to be handled outside polling stations," said Ibrahim.

He also revealed that 389 public notaries across Egypt were named to help citizens wishing to document candidate recommendation forms. "As hopeful candidates will be required to collect recommendation signatures from citizens in different governorates, a certain form was designed, and thousands of copies will be made available in public notaries.

"In the end we hope that citizens will be keen to actively vote in the polls as long as guarantees for fairness and integrity are available. We hope that the coming presidential poll will push Egypt's democracy forward," said Ibrahim, vowing that "all members of the NEC will do their best to ensure that all candidates are treated on an equal footing in terms of campaigning, spending and media coverage."

According to Article 142 of the 2014 constitution, a hopeful presidential candidate must get the recommendations of at least twenty elected MPs, or the recommendations of at least twenty-five thousand citizens with voting powers in at least 15 governorates, with a minimum one thousand recommendations from each governorate.

Ibrahim indicated that a presidential candidate cannot spend more LE20 million on campaigning during the first stage of the race. "In case of a second run-off stage, a candidate shall not be allowed to spend more than LE5 million," he said. 

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