Egypt's 6 April rejects HCC call to give police, military the vote

Ahram Online, Monday 27 May 2013

Leading youth group 'completely rejects' calls by Egypt's High Constitutional Court (HCC) to grant police and military personnel right to cast ballots in national elections

Egypt's 6 April Youth Movement "completely rejects" the notion of granting members of the military establishment and police apparatus the right to vote in national elections, Al-Ahram's Arabic-language news website reported on Monday.

"The police and the military are responsible for securing the voting process," the group declared in a Monday statement. "Allowing them to vote will raise citizens' suspicions, which would be inappropriate during the current, tense phase."

"Don't drag the police and military into the current state of political polarisation before reaching an acceptable stage of democratic practice," the statement urged.

The youth movement went on to ask the Shura Council (the upper house of Egypt's parliament, currently endowed with legislative powers) to reject the proposal, which was recently articulated by Egypt's High Constitutional Court (HCC).

On Sunday, the HCC declared that members of the military and police should be eligible to vote in national elections. On the same day, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Hatem Bagato said that the Shura Council would not challenge the HCC's assertion.

"HCC rulings are the constitution; no one can go against them," Bagato, himself a former HCC judge, told Al-Ahram's Arabic-language news website. 

According to Egypt's new constitution, all laws drafted by parliament must be subject to review by the HCC. If the court finds the proposed legislation unconstitutional, that legislation must be amended. 

Egypt's Islamist parties view the HCC with extreme suspicion. Last December, the court was besieged by Islamist protesters who prevented the court from issuing a ruling on the constitutionality of Egypt's Islamist-dominated Constituent Assembly, tasked with drawing up a new national charter. 

In summer of last year, the HCC was severely criticised by Islamist groups after it called for the dissolution of Egypt's first post-revolution lower house of parliament, in which Islamist parties had won roughly three quarters of the seats. The court's recommendation was quickly carried out by Egypt's then-ruling Supreme Military Council.  

While Bagato sees the HCC's latest assertion as binding – and in line with citizens' constitutional right to vote – he also voiced the opinion that the military establishment and police apparatus should both be kept at a distance from domestic politics. 

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