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Egypt proposes new presidential election law

New rules regulating the presidential election will be discussed at a national dialogue meeting before the law is passed

Gamal Essam El-Din, Thursday 30 Jan 2014
A woman casts her ballot
A woman casts her ballot in the final stage of a referendum on Egypt's new constitution in Cairo, January 15, 2014 (Photo: Mai Shaheen)
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After a new constitution came into effect on 18 January, Egyptians will soon be voting for their next president.

On Wednesday, interim President Adly Mansour proposed a national dialogue to discuss radical changes to the presidential election rules.

“The dialogue will be completed by 9 February because the law should be officially passed before 18 February, or when the Presidential Election Commission (PEC) begins preparing procedures for the poll,” Mansour’s constitutional affairs advisor Ali Awad said.

There will be a new law regulating the poll, rather than changes to the old one (law 174 of 2005), because many changes are required to bring it into line with the new constitution, Awad added.

Law 174 was introduced by Hosni Mubarak to allow multiple-candidate presidential elections rather than the single-candidate referendum specified in the 1971 constitution.

The law was amended by the Islamist-dominated parliament before the 2012 presidential ballot and would have been amended again to conform to the 2012 constitution.

Following the ouster of Mohamed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood movement and the passing of a new constitution it was thought a new presidential election law was needed.

Article 1 of the proposed 59-article law states the presidential poll will be held via a direct secret ballot.

It also stipulates that candidates must be born to Egyptian parents, and that they, along with their parents and spouse, must not have held dual nationality, have performed military service (or have been exempted by law), and be above 40 years of age on registration day.

A candidate must be endorsed by 20 MPs or at least 25,000 citizens from at least 15 governorates, with a minimum of 1,000 from each (Article 2).

It also states that a citizen can only endorse one candidate.

In the 2012 presidential election candidates needed the endorsement of 20 MPs or 20,000 citizens from at least 10 governorates, with a minimum of 1,000 from each. 

As the poll will be held without a parliament in place, the option of acquiring MPs' endorsements is unavailable.

A five-member Presidential Election Commission (PEC) will supervise the poll until a National Electoral Commission (NEC) is created (Article 3).

The commission will be chaired by the head of the High Constitutional Court (HCC) and will include the HCC's first deputy chairman, the first deputy chairman of the Court of Cassation (the highest judicial authority in Egypt), the chairman of Cairo's Appeal Court and the first deputy chairman of the State Council (administrative courts). 

The commission will supervise all aspects of the election, ranging from opening and reviewing the registration process, receiving presidential nominations, checking endorsements, preparing the final list of candidates, fixing the election date, inviting citizens to vote, supervising and monitoring the vote, announcing the results and deciding on appeals (Article 6).

Article 7 introduces a radical change by allowing candidates to file appeals against the commission’s decisions related to election procedures and results. Appeals should be lodged with the Supreme Administrative Court (SAC) within a week and SAC must decide on them within ten days.

This is entirely different from the amendments introduced by the Islamist-dominated parliament in 2012 which stated the commission's decisions were final and not open to appeal.

The commission will issue "certified forms" for prospective candidates to collect endorsements (Article 10). These forms will collect certain required information about the endorser. The endorsements have to be certified at a public notary office.

The certified endorsement forms must be submitted to the commission at least ten days before the registration period opens, and must be accompanied by a birth certificate, a copy of a higher education certificate, an admission that he/she is born to Egyptian parents and does not have dual nationality, a criminal record certificate, a military service certificate, a financial statement, his/her address, and LE1,000 as a refundable insurance payment (Article 11).

The commission will prepare a final list of candidates at least 15 days before the election date. The list will be published in two daily newspapers (Article 15).

Election campaigns will last 30 days and end two days before polling day (Article 17).

Candidates are banned from using slogans that might damage the personal lives of their rivals or harm national unity (Article 18). Religious slogans are also banned. Under the article, candidates cannot use public transport during their campaign or spend public money.

The state-owned media should give equal coverage to all candidates (Article 19) and no candidate may spend more than LE10 million on their campaign in the first round and LE2 million in the runoff (Article 21).

Financial donations to candidates will be held in a bank account supervised by the Central Auditing Agency, and donations from foreigners are forbidden (Article 23).

The voting will be held on one day but the commission can extend it by another day (Article 26).

Articles 26 to 40 regulate the routine election and voting procedures.

Articles 41 to 56 deal with penalties. For example, a candidate found to have forged endorsements could face at least six months in jail and a fine of between LE5,000 and LE10,000.  

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