CAIRO: National Democratic Party (NDP) Secretary General Safwat El-Sherif rejected calls for international monitoring by foreign observers of the elections for the People’s Assembly, set for November.
El-Sherif was responding to comments made by US Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Michael Posner in Cairo last Saturday when he called for international observers to monitor the elections.
El-Sherif said in a statement that the NDP “refuses any foreign interference in Egyptian internal affairs wherever it comes from,” and that the elections were held according to binding laws that ensured its transparency and integrity under the aegis of the Supreme Election Committee and observed by Egyptian NGOs.
Both local and foreign observers have long reported that elections in Egypt contain all manners of fraud. During the Shoura Council elections held last April many local groups faced difficulties in monitoring the election process due to stipulations that they be approved by the electoral commission beforehand.
Meanwhile, opposition parties are gearing up to contest the elections, despite calls for a boycott from former IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei and the National Association for Change. Only the Democratic Front Party has heeded the call and decided to boycott the elections.
However, that party’s secretary general Margaret Azer paid a visit to Al-Wafd Party headquarters earlier this week, fueling speculation that she might jump ship and run for a parliamentary seat as part of Al-Wafd’s roster.
Al-Wafd Party — recently in a whirl of controversy over its leadership acquiring Al-Dostor newspaper and firing longtime editor Ibrahim Eissa — has a preliminary list of 172 candidates who will run in November, including 15 women.
The party’s candidates will contest 68 percent of the electoral circuits in 27 governorates, the only two in which they will not be represented are North and South Sinai.
All in all there are 508 seats to be contested in the November election. An additional 10 seats are direct appointees by the president. Under a new quota system, 64 seats are reserved for women.
The leftist opposition Tagammu Party has also decided to enter the elections, naming 78 candidates in a number that may rise before November. Unlike Al-Wafd, the Tagammu Party has a strong presence in the Sinai Peninsula and many of its candidates will come from there.
The officially banned Muslim Brotherhood, which has 88 seats in the current parliament under the guise of independents, has stated that it will contest 30 percent of the seats. However, it has been on the receiving end of a severe crackdown by the regime in the interim, with 44 members arrested since the announcement that the group would run.