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SPEC notes campaign breaches by Islamist presidential hopefuls

Egypt's Supreme Presidential Electoral Commission (SPEC) points to campaign violations by Islamist candidates Morsi and El-Awa, but lacks authority to penalise offenders

Ahram Online, Sunday 13 May 2012
Muslim Brotherhood's presidential candidate Mohamed Morsi speaking during campaign rally, with the slogan "Egyptian renaissance with Islamic reference" appearing in a banner in the background. (Photo: Ikhwan Online)
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In a report issued Sunday, the advisory media evaluation committee – a sub-body of Egypt's Supreme Presidential Elections Commission (SPEC) – declared that Islamist presidential candidates Mohamed Morsi and Mohamed Selim El-Awa had both violated the SPEC's campaign regulations.

At a Sunday press conference, the committee asserted that the campaign slogan of Muslim Brotherhood presidential contender Morsi – 'An Egyptian renaissance with an Islamic point of reference' – represented a violation of the SPEC's presidential campaign guidelines banning the use of religious slogans.

The committee also pointed out that a recent television advertisement by the El-Awa campaign had inaccurately stated that passports belonging to Bedouin tribesmen designated them as of 'Arab' – rather than Egyptian – nationality. In its report, the committee affirmed that the assertion had no basis in fact.

The committee also noted that prominent television presenter Mona El-Shazli, during a televised presidential debate on Thursday, had singled out candidates Amr Moussa and Abdel-Moneim Abul-Fotouh as presidential frontrunners based on recent opinion polls. According to the SPEC committee, however, such a description is unsubstantiated.

The committee went on to accuse various private Egyptian satellite-television channels of promoting certain candidates over others, rather than providing voters with accurate information about candidates' respective electoral platforms. Notably, the committee praised the state-run Egyptian Radio and Television Union for providing the "most balanced" coverage thus far of presidential campaigns and candidates.

At Sunday's press conference, committee members stressed the non-binding nature of committee reports, noting that the SPEC lacked the authority to penalise candidates for campaign breaches.

Egypt's first post-Mubarak presidential poll will be held on 23/24 May, with a runoff round on 16/17 June if no single candidate wins an outright majority. Egypt's next president will be formally named on 21 June.

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