Adli Mansour (C), Egypt's chief justice and head of the Supreme Constitutional Court, speaks at his swearing in ceremony as the nation's interim president in Cairo July 4, 2013, (Photo:Reuters )
Egypt's interim President Adly Mansour told political parties on Saturday that Article 7 of the newly-drafted presidential polls law cannot be amended to allow appeals.
In a press brief on Saturday, Mansour's Legal and Constitutional Affairs advisor, Ali Awad, told reporters that Mansour has officially informed political factions that the decisions of the Presidential Election Commission (PEC) – the five-member body tasked with supervising Egypt's upcoming presidential polls – will remain immune to appeals.
Awad indicated that Mansour told political forces that their proposed amendments of Article 7 cannot be accepted "because some them are in violation of the new constitution while others do not take the national interests of the country into consideration."
Awad also explained that President Mansour's written response to political forces stressed that the rejection of appeals against PEC's decisions "stands on constitutional grounds."
"President Mansour told political forces that the High Constitutional Court (HCC) advised him in a message not to amend the new presidential election law and that Article 7 goes in line with the new constitution," Awad said.
In the words of Awad, "President Mansour told political forces that Article 228 under the new constitution's chapter of "the Transitional Articles" clearly states that the powers and prerogatives of PEC remain intact until the National Election Commission – stated by the new constitution's Article 208 – is formed to supervise Egypt's post-2014 elections.
Awad also argued that President Mansour told political forces that Article 97 which allows filing appeals against administrative orders does not apply to PEC. "While Article 228 grants PEC complete supreme powers, its decisions must be considered as judicial orders rather than administrative orders."
Awad also indicated Mansour insisted that appeals could undermine the election process and further destabilize Egypt. "If appeals were allowed, the Supreme Administrative Court could refer one of them to the Constitutional Court to give a final judgment and in that case the result of the election could be delayed for five months, incurring a lot of financial costs and destabilizing the country" Awad said.
In a meeting with 33 key political figures on 12 March, President Mansour said he would allow politicians some time to consult their partners to give a final say on Article 7.
Awad said some political parties responded by agreeing with President Mansour's rejection to allow appeals in presidential polls. "Other political forces – like the liberal Destour party and leftist politician Hamdeen Sabahi's Popular Current party – introduced proposed amendments of Article 7," he said.
In an interview with CBC television last week, Mansour said Sabahi proposed allowing appeals against some PEC's decisions – mainly against PEC's announcement of the result of the election – and rejecting appeals against other PEC decisions. "I told him this is unconstitutional because you have two options: either you take it or reject it all," Mansour said.
In a quick reaction, Al-Wafd party indicated that its response goes in favour of maintaining Article 7 which prevents appeals against PEC's decisions.
Abdallah Al-Moghazi, a leading Wafd official, told Ahram Online that "Mansour's reasons for maintaining Article 7 and his rejection of any proposed amendments of this article were branded convincing and satisfactory by Al-Wafd party."
Al-Moghazi urged Hamdeen Sabahi not to withdraw from the upcoming presidential race in objection to immunizing PEC's decisions. "Sabahi contested 2012's presidential polls without stipulating that appeals should be allowed, and he should do the same with the new polls," argued Al-Moghazi, adding that "Sabahi has good popularity and we think that he will be a serious rival to minister of defence Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi who has so far abstained from declaring his candidacy."
The official rejection of amending Article 7 could move the presidential election process forward and pave the way for PEC to set a date for registration as soon as possible.