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SCAF backs embattled electoral commission

Egypt's ruling military council affirms its support for presidential elections commission after Parliament moves to reduce power of body tasked with managing electoral process

Ahram Online, Wednesday 9 May 2012
SCAF
File photo: Head of Egypt's ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) Field Marshal Mohamed Tantawi (L) stands with Egyptian Armed Forces Chief of Staff Sami Anan (Photo: Reuters)
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Egypt's ruling military council assured its support of the Supreme Presidential Electoral Commission (SPEC) and their work in a press statement Wednesday, after Parliament moved to change the operating laws of the body tasked with managing the electoral process.

The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) affirmed its "full appreciation and trust in Egypt's esteemed judiciary" and the commission and emphasised the necessity of "committing to the constitutional verdicts" and "non interference of a state authority in the work of the other."

The military council's statement comes one day after a row erupted between the SPEC and the lower house of Egypt's Parliament. On Monday, the electoral commission announced its intention to indefinitely suspend all its activities and postpone meetings scheduled for Tuesday with presidential candidates and media personnel.

The SPEC Secretary-General Hatem Bagato said that the decision came in response to what the commission saw as parliamentary encroachment on its affairs, following Monday's parliamentary session in which several proposed amendments to Egypt's presidential elections law were preliminarily approved by MPs in attendance.

Moreover, SPEC President Farouk Sultan said on Tuesday, that the commission had called on Egypt's ruling military country to intervene in the crisis in order to ensure the clear division of power between various state authorities, which, he said, Parliament had clearly violated.

He added that Parliament's preliminary approval on Monday of amendments to the presidential elections law represented a "clear infringement" on the SPEC's jurisdiction.

On Monday, the People's Assembly agreed to amend Article 28 in the elections law, which grants the Supreme Presidential Electoral Commission (SPEC) immunity from appeal.

Article 28, which also appears in the SCAF-authored Constitutional Declaration, had been criticised by a number of MPs and come under fire from activists, as it means that SPEC decisions cannot be appealed.

In the statement, the military council also rejected any claims that the upcoming presidential elections will be rigged, in response to critics who announced their fear that, under the umbrella of Article 28, the elections could be rigged in SCAF's favour.

The SCAF concluded their statement by affirming that the presidential elections will be held on time, after concerns arose about the postponement of the elections following the SPEC's announcement to suspend its activities.

Presidential elections have been scheduled by the SPEC to take place on 23 and 24 May, afterwhich a run off voting round will be held, if necessary, on 16 and 17 June.

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