Presidential commission announces campaign regulations

MENA, Saturday 21 Apr 2012

The use of houses of worship, religious slogans, governmental institutes, public transportation, schools or universities are prohibited during campaigning, states the commission as it sets the rules

(Photo: Reuters)

The Supreme Presidential Electoral Commission (SPEC) has announced the campaigning regulations ahead of Egypt's presidential elections, due to start on 23 May.

The state news agency, MENA, quoted an unnamed source from the SPEC as saying that the regulations give the right to candidates to hold press conferences and forums to display their respective campaigning platforms.

However, it is completely prohibited, the source says, for any candidate to defame another by bringing family or personal issues into discussion.

It is also not allowed to embark on any activities that would negatively affect national unity or people's trust in the elections' transparency.

Religious slogans have also been disallowed, as have the use of houses of worship during campaigning.

A controversial yet popular figure in following the presidential race, Salafist preacher Hazem Salah Abu-Ismail, seemed to work against all the rules. Firstly, he was excluded by the SPEC when it was proven his mother held US citizenship, aside from being an Egyptian citizen. Electoral rules prohibit anyone whose parent(s) held any additional nationality. 

Furthermore, he held a popular conference in March at Asad Ibn Al-Furat Mosque in Cairo, where he periodically preaches and delivers sermons, where campaigning took place. The conference was originally called for by Abu-Ismail to discuss the trial of civilians in military courts. In the end, nonetheless, it became an opportunity for the Islamist lawyer’s supporters to campaign amid hundreds of attendees, which stirred up controversy later.

Candidates are also not entitled to use state institutes' buildings or facilities, public transportation, schools or universities while campaigning.

Resorting to threats, violence or bribery is punishable pursuant to the regulations announced by the SPEC.

No one can use their post to boost a candidate's electoral campaign. State TV and radio will dedicate time to display the platforms of each candidate.

Paid televised promotions cannot be aired during news bulletins on state TV and radio, nor during live coverage of an event.

Each candidate in the first round will be entitled to one free hour on state TV to promote himself.

The SPEC also announced the formation of a separate committee to monitor the media coverage and spot infractions against the regulations.

The official campaign period for the presidential elections is set to begin 30 April and ends on 21 May, or 48 hours before elections day on 23 May. Anyone breaching these dates shall be prosecuted.

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