SPEC notes campaign breaches by Islamist presidential hopefuls

Ahram Online, Sunday 13 May 2012

Egypt's Supreme Presidential Electoral Commission (SPEC) points to campaign violations by Islamist candidates Morsi and El-Awa, but lacks authority to penalise offenders

Muslim Brotherhood's presidential candidate Mohamed Morsi speaking during campaign rally, with the slogan "Egyptian renaissance with Islamic reference" appearing in a banner in the background. (Photo: Ikhwan Online)

In a report issued Sunday, the advisory media evaluation committee – a sub-body of Egypt's Supreme Presidential Elections Commission (SPEC) – declared that Islamist presidential candidates Mohamed Morsi and Mohamed Selim El-Awa had both violated the SPEC's campaign regulations.

At a Sunday press conference, the committee asserted that the campaign slogan of Muslim Brotherhood presidential contender Morsi – 'An Egyptian renaissance with an Islamic point of reference' – represented a violation of the SPEC's presidential campaign guidelines banning the use of religious slogans.

The committee also pointed out that a recent television advertisement by the El-Awa campaign had inaccurately stated that passports belonging to Bedouin tribesmen designated them as of 'Arab' – rather than Egyptian – nationality. In its report, the committee affirmed that the assertion had no basis in fact.

The committee also noted that prominent television presenter Mona El-Shazli, during a televised presidential debate on Thursday, had singled out candidates Amr Moussa and Abdel-Moneim Abul-Fotouh as presidential frontrunners based on recent opinion polls. According to the SPEC committee, however, such a description is unsubstantiated.

The committee went on to accuse various private Egyptian satellite-television channels of promoting certain candidates over others, rather than providing voters with accurate information about candidates' respective electoral platforms. Notably, the committee praised the state-run Egyptian Radio and Television Union for providing the "most balanced" coverage thus far of presidential campaigns and candidates.

At Sunday's press conference, committee members stressed the non-binding nature of committee reports, noting that the SPEC lacked the authority to penalise candidates for campaign breaches.

Egypt's first post-Mubarak presidential poll will be held on 23/24 May, with a runoff round on 16/17 June if no single candidate wins an outright majority. Egypt's next president will be formally named on 21 June.

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