Coalition wants parliament dissolved

Yasmine Fathi , Monday 6 Dec 2010

The Independent Coalition for Elections' Observation have announced a list of "recommendations" for the President in light of rampant election violations

Photo by (AP)

The 2010 parliamentary elections were a "political and moral catastrophe", the Independent Coalition for Elections' Observation said in their final press conference this morning, adding that they have created a list of "recommendations" for Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak that include dissolving the parliament.

The coalition, which was one of several formed to monitor this year's elections, described what happened on November 28 and December 5 as the "forging of national will" and the "natural result of the government's actions for the last two months."

"When we look at what happened in the last two months from the preliminary stage to the two rounds, we see that the events of November 28 and December 5 was not a coincidence," said Bahy El Din Hassan, head of the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CHIRS). "It was not a coincidence that two months ago they oversaw a campaign to tighten the grip on the media and marginalize them from the electoral process, stop live coverage, reject international monitoring, and refuse civil society monitoring and give them limited permits."

The coalition, which includes Nazra for Feminist Studies and the Egyptian Association for Community Participation Enhancement (EACPE), have created an archive of video-footage of some of the violations that took place in the various constituencies across the country. The violations - excerpts of which were screened at the conference, included an NDP member attacking voters who refused to vote for him, a child of 12 voting despite the political participation law putting the voting age at 18, footage of the head of a polling station in the governorate of Minya taking a bribe, use of police dogs to threaten voters, NDP candidates using public institutions for their electoral campaign, and the arrests of supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood. Reports of weed (hashish) being handed out to voters in the Bulak El Dakrour district were also listed.

Footage included a toddler squealing in pain as a doctor examined his foot after it was shot in front of a polling station in Beni Suef. According to his father, who was interviewed in the video, his child was shot because he informed one of the opposition members that rigging is taking place. In the video, the doctor is shown telling the father that his child's foot might have to be amputated.

The coalition blamed most of the violations on the lack of judicial supervision and the fact that the Higher Elections Commission (HEC) did not perform its duties properly. They added that one of the biggest violations was the lack of respect for the rulings of the Supreme Administrative Court (SAC), which they said raises questions about the legitimacy of the parliament. They added that if they take their cases to the Supreme Constitutional Court, it will probably rule that the elections are null.  

"These final rulings should have been respected and not respecting them means that these elections are null," says Magdy Abdel Hameed, the head of the EACPE, adding that the rulings reached the tens of numbers from the High Administrative Court and hundreds from the Administrative Court.

Members of the coalition said the 2010 parliamentary elections were witness to unprecedented antics. They specifically cited the case of the alleged "kidnapping" of Magdy Ashour, the MB candidate who was kidnapped by state security and forced him to continue in the campaign despite the MB's official withdrawal from the runoffs. This, they claimed happened because of the "trap" that the NDP found themselves in after the withdrawal of all opposition.

 "They kidnapped him and forced him do the electoral rounds at night," said Ahmed Fawzy from EACPE.

Another unprecedented incident was the withdrawal of a member of the ruling party from the run-offs, Fawzy said. He cited the case of Abdel-Fatah Diab an NDP candidate who withdrew from the election re-run citing vote-rigging in favour of leftist Tagammu candidate Raafat Seif. 

The coalition read out their list of "recommendations" to the President.

Firstly, they recommended that the president should use his constitutional powers, according to article 136 of the constitution to dissolve the new parliament. Secondly, Mubarak, they suggest, should issue a decision in accordance with article 147 of the constitution to amend the law on the exercise of political participation before calling for new parliamentary elections to ensure a minimum standard of transparency. Thirdly, an investigative body should be formed, composed of independent entities to investigate the events that happened during and prior to the elections. Finally, they requested that amendments should be made to article 76 and 93 of the  constitution to permit judicial supervision of elections and give the court of cessation the right to judge the fairness of the electoral process.

The group added, that the violations that took place this year were not random incidents that could be disregarded.

"We see that the kind of violations and their number that happened in these elections are so huge that they nullify the electoral process. It forces  us raise questions about the legitimacy of the new parliament," said EACPE head Abdel Hameed.

Unofficial preliminary results of the 2010 parliamentary elections show that the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP)  got over 90 per cent of the 508 seat People's Assembly,.

The opposition appears to have only 15 seats or four per cent only.

The Brotherhood and Wafd had pulled out from the elections two days after the 28 November vote last Sunday. The two opposition groups cited “blatant” and “widespread” rigging in favour of the ruling party.

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