Egypt parliament's human rights committee to supervise NGOs monitoring presidential elections

Gamal Essam El-Din , Saturday 20 Jan 2018

The committee also said it will oversee the performance of NGOs in general under the new law passed in November 2016.

Egyptian parliament
File Photo: A general view of the Egyptian parliament during a working session in Cairo, Egypt (Photo: AP)

Alaa Abed, head of the Egyptian parliament's human rights committee, said in a statement on Saturday that the committee will supervise the performance of NGOs and civil society organisations participating in the monitoring of Egypt's presidential elections, which are scheduled for March.

"I agreed with the committee's members affiliated with the majority, opposition, and independent blocs that sub-committees should be formed to take charge of supervising the performance of all NGOs and civil society organisations, which will be licensed by the National Elections Authority (NEA) to monitor the ballot in all stages," said Abed.

"We know that some NGOs that wish to monitor the poll aim to convey a negative image about Egypt to the outside world."

"We have documents that show that some of these NGOs come not to observe the poll in an objective way, but to convey a negative picture of Egypt in return for the foreign money they obtain," said Abed.

"Parliament's human rights committee is authorised by the constitution and the new NGO law to oversee the performance of these suspected NGOs and civil society organisations to ensure that practices directed by some of them to export a negative view of Egypt will not be repeated," Abed said.

"At the same time, the committee will also be keen to see that state authorities completely abide by the law and the constitution throughout all the stages of the upcoming presidential election," said Abed, adding that "we are confident that the poll will be marked with integrity and transparency and convey an honourable picture of the political conditions inside Egypt."

Abed argued that the NGO law (passed by parliament last November and ratified by President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi last May) gives parliament and its human rights committee the prerogative to supervise the performance of NGOs in general.

"Parliament and the Human Rights Committee have all the powers necessary to oversee the implementation of the new NGO law (law 70/2017) on the ground and to see to what extent all NGOs and civil society organisations go in line with this law," said Abed.

As a result, said Abed, the sub-committees formed will also take charge of supervising and following the performance of NGOs under the new law.

"I agreed with the committee's members that the committee should intervene at once to correct any deviations inside NGOs and discipline those who might violate the law," said Abed.

Abed's statement came just few hours after the NEA announced that it will accept applications from candidates seeking to stand in Egypt's upcoming presidential election between 20 and 29 January.

NEA head Lasheen Ibrahim said in a press conference Saturday that hopeful candidates can register between 9am and 6pm at the commission's headquarters in downtown Cairo's Qasr Al-Aini Street.

"In order to be eligible to stand, hopeful candidates must be endorsed by at least 20 MPs, or 25,000 eligible voters drawn from a minimum of 15 governorates, with at least 1,000 endorsements per governorate," said Ibrahim.

"The NEA has authorised 390 public notaries across Egypt to certify the required endorsements."

NEA spokesperson Mahmoud El-Sherif said 29 local and foreign NGOs have so far expressed interest in monitoring the poll.

"The requests are being reviewed," said El-Sherif, adding that "the NEA is also keen on having as many local and international media outlets as possible participate in covering the ballot.”

The NEA said that local and foreign correspondents wishing to cover the poll can register with the State Information Service until the end of 22 January.

El-Sherif also indicated that the NEA is in the process of counting the number of judges who will be tasked with supervising the poll.

"This goes in line with the constitution and the principle of ‘a judge for every voting box’," said El-Sherif.

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