On Wednesday, the European Parliament adopted a resolution calling for Egypt to hold “credible, free and fair” presidential elections and to “stop stifling opposition voices” ahead of elections.
The resolution criticizes Egypt’s handling of political prisoners, upcoming elections, media regulations and treatment of the opposition. The House of Representatives has already refuted the claims made in this resolution.
Egypt is preparing for presidential elections in December with multiple candidates expected to challenge incumbent President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, who is seeking re-election for a third term.
Voting in Egypt will take place 10-12 December, with Egyptians abroad casting their votes 1-3 December.
The Coalition of Egyptian Parties, consisting of 42 political parties, denounced the EU Parliament’s resolution and affirmed its rejection of “any interference in [Egypt’s] internal affairs as well as external dictations.”
They emphasized that the upcoming presidential elections would be held under complete judicial supervision, underscoring the independence of the National Election Authority (NEA), responsible for managing the elections.
Leading figure of the Mostaqbal Watan (the Nation’s Future) Party Mohamed Rezk called upon the European Parliament to respect Egypt's sovereignty, just as Egypt refrains from interfering in the internal affairs of other nations.
He also demanded an apology from the European Parliament for offending the Egyptian state.
The centrist Humat El-Watan (Homeland Defenders) Party, the mainstream Democratic Generation (El-Geel) Party, the nationalist Reform and Renaissance Party, the Egyptians Party and and Al-Ittihad (The Union) Party have all denounced the resolution.
The Free Egyptians Party and the Congress Party, known for their liberal views, stated that the resolution does not accurately reflect the situation in Egypt.
MP Nasser Othman, Secretary of the Constitutional and Legislative Affairs Committee at the House of Representatives, denounced the resolution as baseless, saying it violates all norms of international law.
He refuted any harassment of presidential hopefuls during the endorsement process to run in the elections, asserting that the official Facebook pages of the candidates have shown people issuing endorsements freely without restrictions.
He called on the European Parliament and international institutions to adhere to neutrality in addressing political and human rights matters in Egypt, saying that the Egyptian government has no involvement in managing elections, as it falls under the sole jurisdiction of the independent NEA.
Riham Afifi from the Senate’s Foreign Affairs Committee labelled the resolution as misleading, saying that such remarks, repeatedly directed to Egypt, aim to destabilize the state and obstruct elections.
She asserted that the resolution relies on questionable sources and reports from human rights organizations affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, which Egypt designates as a terrorist group.
In a statement on Thursday, the Arab Parliament also denounced the resolution, stressing that Egypt possesses the constitutional and judicial necessary for conducting fair presidential elections.
“Egypt has … long-established constitutional and judicial institutions that are capable of implementing law and providing all the necessary guarantees to hold free and fair presidential elections that reflect the true will of the Egyptian people,” the Arab Parliament said.
The Arab Parliament hailed the pioneering steps Egypt has achieved to strengthen democratic mechanisms and law enforcement.
The parliament also expressed full solidarity with Egypt against interference, slander and misleading information.
Such false information “seeks to stir up strife and destabilize security and stability in the Arab region,” the Arab Parliament added in a statement on Thursday.
The Arab Parliament called on the European Parliament to stop such “blatant interference” in the internal affairs of Arab countries.
Moreover, the Arab Observatory for Human Rights (AOFHR) said on Friday that the resolution comes “at a very sensitive time and reflects bad faith towards Egypt by pressuring it under the pretext of human rights.”
The European Parliament’s resolution “includes false allegations” and “reflects a biased and subjective view of the situation in Egypt,” the observatory added.
The observatory, affiliated with the Arab Parliament, shed light on the important achievements that Egypt has made concerning human rights over the past years, including the launch of the National Strategy for Human Rights and the National Dialogue.
Egypt’s Arab Council Supporting Fair Trial Human Rights (ACSFT) said the EU Parliament’s discussion of human rights files in Egypt is “unacceptable” and violates international laws.
Abdel-Gawad Ahmed, ACSFT’s chairman, said the EU Parliament should not transgress its powers as a legislative oversight authority monitoring legislation issued by the parliaments of EU countries.
Freedom of media
Meanwhile, the Supreme Council for Media Regulation (SCMR) denied claims raised by the resolution about freedom of the press and media in Egypt in the context of the presidential elections.
The European resolution urged Egyptian authorities to uphold the rule of law, freedom of expression, press, media and association, as well as judicial independence.
The resolution also claims that the media was prevented from attending the trial of prominent opposition figure Hisham Kassem.
“The resolution, like numerous resolutions issued by the EU Parliament since before 2011, attempts to generalize individual cases that are subject to legal proceedings as if they represent the entire political reality in Egypt,” said the SCMR, which is Egypt's authority licensing media platforms and regulating their work.
The NEA earlier approved all requests submitted by local and foreign media outlets to cover elections, the SCMR stressed.
Furthermore, the SCMR said it has granted licenses to over 100 media outlets that have met the legal requirements.
The Council said it has not made any decisions to close any media outlets and always stands in defence of press freedom and media.
The Council emphasized that it has issued a code for media coverage of elections per the constitutional and legal powers, following the guidelines established by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the code of conduct for election monitoring in the European Union.
The council said it also draws inspiration from democratic models in covering elections and has not received any complaints from the media about restrictions on coverage.
The Council appealed to the European Parliament members to verify information published by some media outlets that deviate from professionalism and credibility, it says.
The SCMR invited the European Parliament's media committee members to exchange views and ideas to achieve the highest international standards of media coverage, with the condition that such discussions should not infringe upon the sovereignty of constitutional institutions or interfere in their affairs.