Monitoring bodies observe violations on Egypt's first referendum day

Ahram Online, MENA, Passant Darwish, Wednesday 15 Jan 2014

As the Egyptian National Council for Human Rights reports delays in opening times among its major observations, says MENA, the ANHRI witnesses diverse attempts prompting Egyptians towards both 'yes' and 'no' votes

yes to the constitution
During the nation's first referendum day on the constitution, an Egyptian woman raises a "yes to the constitution" poster outside a polling station in Cairo, Egypt, Tuesday, 14 Jan, 2014 (Photo: Lamia Hassan)

A number of observers issued Wednesday the violations and complaints they received Tuesday during Egypt's first referendum day on the draft constitution.

The Judges' Club operations committee assigned to observe the voting process announced it received 51 complaints nationwide.

The complaints include a demand to increase the number of polling stations in Giza and Cairo designated for voters who do not reside at their registered addresses, due to the unexpected high voter turnout in these areas.

The committee also received complaints of attempts by "terrorist elements" -- foiled by police -- to storm a number of polling stations.

The Egyptian National Council for Human Rights received a total of 117 complaints nationwide -- 82 of which, following the council's inspection, were sent to the Supreme Electoral Committee and the interior ministry's operations committee -- with Greater Cairo containing the larger share of 33 complaints.

According to state news agency MENA, major complaints received by the council regarded delays in opening times at some polling station as well as the presence of one deceased person's name on the electoral list in Fayoum Governorate.

The council received violations reporting attempts by Morsi supporters to "intimidate" voters, with clashes ensuing.

The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) witnessed attempts to prompt voters towards the "yes" as well as the "no" votes.

ANHRI said their reporters observed the pro-military song Teslam Al-Ayadi blasting on a loop within some polling stations nationwide from start to closure of the voting day. ANHRI commented saying "as if [Teslam Al-Ayadi] had become Egypt's new national anthem."

Other attempts pushing for a "yes" vote, as observed by ANHRI, were "Yes to the constitution" posters plastered on the doors and fences of Al-Shaheed Al-Gondy polling station in the Menoufiya governorate.

Also, as revealed by ANHRI, some campaigners lined outside Alexandria's Al-Farouk Elementary School polling station urged queuing voters awaiting their turns to vote "yes".

ANHRI also criticised the Supreme Electoral Committee's lack of organisation regarding the temporary closure of polling stations during prayer times, breaks, or meals. It condemned the fact that judges at the polling stations randomly determined the break periods and without compensating the time such breaks detracted from the voting time allotted to citizens.

Finally, the ANHRI detected other violations that hampered the smoothness of the voting process, such as the change or merger of polling stations, either due to the voters' low turnout in some areas or the failure by judges assigned to supervise the referendum to show up.

Wednesday is the second and last day for Egyptians to vote on the draft constitution. Polling stations began receiving voters at 9am (CLT) and the voting will end after the last Egyptians already in line before the 9pm closing time have cast their ballots.

Tens of thousands of police and army soldiers were deployed Wednesday across the country to guard the proceedings amid fears of renewed violence after Tuesday's deadly clashes in several cities left at least nine dead.

Final results and exact turnout figures should be revealed in the early hours of Thursday.

The draft constitution is a recently-amended version of the 2012 constitution that has been billed as the first step in a wider political transition following Mohamed Morsi's ouster last July.

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