Egyptian lawyers start voting Sunday to choose new Bar Association head

Ahram Online , Sunday 4 Sep 2022

Egyptian lawyers started voting on Sunday to choose the new head of the Bar Association (or Lawyers' Syndicate) to succeed late head Ragaai Attia, who died in March, nearly two years before the end of his four-year term.

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Low turnout was recorded in the first hours of the elections at 333 ballot stations installed at the syndicate's premises in Cairo and sub-branches, reported Egypt’s state-owned news agency MENA.

Eighteen candidates are competing for the vacant seat, with 289,252 voters eligible to select the new head.

Earlier, the Administrative Court of Justice had excluded two prominent candidates from nomination; Sameh Ashour, a Nasserist politician and a three-time head of Bar Association; and Montasser El-Zayat, a high-profile lawyer with a record of defending Islamist detainees.

The court verdict followed a lawsuit calling for the exclusion of Ashour and Zayat on procedural grounds.

The lawsuit called for excluding Ashour, 69, due to its membership in the Egyptian senate, which proscribes members from holding other positions at the same time.

On the other hand, Zayat, 66, was excluded as he was issued a judicial penalty (an EGP 30,000 fine) in a case from 2019, putting him afoul of a law that prevents registering as a candidate for those who receive a judicial penalty at least three years beforehand.

Both Ashour and Zayat challenged the court decisions, but their appeals were rejected.

Today's vote will be held until 5pm, with a run-off taking place on 11 September if necessary.

The last time the Lawyers’ Syndicate held an election was in 2020 when Attia, then head of the Arab Lawyers’ Union and a prominent thinker, was elected to the post.

Attia died in March at the age of 84 while attending a court session.

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