Shura Council finalizes 'exercise of political rights' law

Ahram Online, Sunday 16 Jun 2013

Amendments to law include controversial decision to grant military and police personnel voting rights in national elections

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A general view shows the Shura Council during its meeting in Cairo December 26, 2012 (Photo: Reuters)

Egypt's Shura Council – parliament's upper house which is endowed with legislative authority until the House of Representatives is elected – finalized a number of amendments to the 'Law on Exercise of Political Rights' on Sunday and will refer the law for constitutional review to the High Constitutional Court (HCC).

On 25 May, the HCC sent an earlier version of the law back to the Shura Council, citing nine articles as unconstitutional. In particular, the court asserted that military and police personal should be eligible to vote in national elections.

On Sunday, the legislative and constitutional affairs committee agreed to grant military and police personnel the right to vote in elections by no later than July 2020.

During debate on the law, 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 proposed exempting military and police personnel from automatic updates of voting databases and establishing a different system for adding their information.

The council agreed to Shahin's amendment on Sunday.

The article now stipulates that military and police voter information will not be automatically updated to the voting databases.

Instead, their information will be collected in a separate database, to be drawn up "in coordination with the Armed Forces and the police in accordance with the rules that guarantee the information's secrecy and Egypt's national security."

The database should be ready before July 2020, according to the article.

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