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Egypt's military vote to be postponed to 2020

Army asked for military and police personnel to be excluded from election voters lists for now citing national security concerns

Ahram Online, Sunday 9 Jun 2013
File photo: Securing 2011's parliamentary elections cost the army LE180 million, says SCAF (Photo: Reuters)
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The Legislative and Constitutional Affairs Committee of the Shura Council (the upper house of parliament endowed with legislative authority until the election of the House of Representatives) agreed Sunday to grant Egyptian military and police personnel the right to vote in elections by July 2020.

Deputy Defence Minister Major Mamdouh Shahin asked the committee to exclude army and police personnel from the upcoming election voter lists, asserting that disclosing personal information of military personnel in voting databases would be a threat to national security.

Shahin submitted an amendment to the Shura Council which proposes exempting army and police personnel from automatic updates of voting databases and establishing a different system for adding their information – to be agreed upon by the armed forces and police authorities – which takes into account the information's confidential nature.

Shahin also raised doubts over the state's ability to secure the upcoming parliamentary elections should armed forces personnel be eligible to vote.

For his part, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Hatem Bagato suggested that information on military personnel be added gradually, in a process that would be completed before July 2020.

The Shura Council will discuss proposed electoral law amendments concerning military and police voting rights and submit them back to Egypt's High Constitutional Court (HCC) for review.

On 26 May, Bagato said the Shura Council will not challenge the HCC's declaration that military and police personnel should be eligible to vote in elections.

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

The HCC's decision deeming the voting ban on police and military members unconstitutional drew criticism from several quarters. Some liberal opposition parties supported the decision on the grounds of equality for police and military personnel, while others voiced concerns about involving the police and army in politics.

Essam El-Erian, leading figure in the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party, has also voiced concerns about the practicality of applying the HCC's decision, citing conflict between protecting confidential information and the need for transparency in the electoral process.

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