By Heba Fahmy
CAIRO: Army council General Mamdouh Shahin said Wednesday that international monitoring of the impending legislative elections will not be allowed because Egypt “doesn’t accept guardianship from any country”, adding that this was an issue of national sovereignty.
At a press conference announcing the final amendments to the Peoples’ Assembly and Shoura Council law and the political rights law, Shahin said than local civil society organizations will be allowed to submit applications to the Supreme Electoral Commission to monitor the elections, as was the case during the referendum held last March.
He explained that electoral system will combine the closed party lists and individual candidates formats, with 50 percent allocated to each.
He described demands by some political parties that 100 percent of MPs be elected through closed party lists as “unconstitutional.”
“If we presume that the number of people that the political parties represent is 10 million, then the rest should be represented by individual candidates to provide equal opportunities for all,” he explained.
However, he added that members of the political parties can also field candidates outside the closed electoral lists. He added that parties will be allowed to run on unified parties list or form alliances and coalitions.
For the People’s Assemble (lower house) elections, the nation will be divided into 184 constituencies, of which 126 will be designated for the individual candidates system. Two candidates will be elected in each constituency, where at least one must be a worker or farmer. The remaining 58 constituencies will be reserved for closed party lists.
In the Shoura Council (Upper House) elections, the nation will be divided into 93 electoral constituencies, 65 of which are reserved for the individual candidates system, while 28 will follow the closed party lists system.
“The constituencies are divided according to security considerations that achieve public interest and safety,” Shahin said.
The People’s Assembly will include 504 elected candidates, in addition to 10 candidates assigned by SCAF as the acting president, while one third of the Shoura Council’s 390 members, will remain empty until the new president is elected. The new president will then exercise his right to appoint one third of the Council.
The 64-seat women’s quota employed in the 2010 parliamentary elections, was cancelled, but replaced by a stipulation that each party must nominate at least one female candidate on its list.
The age of eligible candidates for parliament was also reduced from 30 to 25, to encourage youth participation.
However the age of candidate running in the Shoura Council has remained set at 35.
Shahin said that only parties that receive less than half a percent of national votes will not be permitted representation in parliament.
The new elections will take place over one month, with voting on different days in three regions, General Mamdouh Shaheen told reporters.
He said staggering the vote would ensure that judges could monitor polling thoroughly. Voters will cast ballots for both lower and upper houses at the same time.
“The army’s role during the elections will be to provide security only. Only the judiciary will monitor,” Shaheen said.
All polling stations will be presided over by judges with the total exclusion of police to guarantee their integrity.
However, each committee will have a technical secretariat which will include a representative from the interior ministry.
Shahin did not clarify what the mandate of this secretariat will be.
The issue of Egyptian expatriates voting has not been decided yet, he added.
He said that religious campaigning will be banned in the PA elections, adding that anyone who violates this rule will be subjected to a criminal penalty and will be disqualified.
Both the PA and Shoura Council elections will be held on the same day and the run-offs will only be allowed in constituencies contested by individual candidates not closed party lists.
Shahin said that the exact date of the polls will be announced in September and confirmed that it will be long before the end of the year. The recently appointed head of the Supreme Electoral Commission said earlier week that the elections would be in the second half of November. –Additional reporting by Reuters