CAIRO: A coalition of 127 NGOs that intends to monitor the parliament elections met on Wednesday in a conference organized by the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights (EOHR) to discuss the amendments to the elections law.
Calls have been made by different political forces to cancel using the individual list to which they attribute rigging the previous elections, and using the disproportional open party list through which people can chose freely from different lists.
“If people elect their new candidates using the current electoral laws, there is no way that rigging can’t take place as people will be confused and many will vote more than once,” said Hafez Abou Saeda, director of EOHR.
A number of participants called on boycotting the elections along with other political forces if SCAF is not willing to consider their demands.
Under the new elections law, 50 percent of seats in the People’s Assembly will be allocated to closed party lists to proportional representation, while the other half will be allocated for individual representation.
The party closed proportional list will be available in 58 constituencies while the individual list will be available in 126 constituencies.
Participants in the conference criticized the amendments, saying they don’t allow voters to choose between party lists since the system is a closed one.
Participants also agreed that the law needs to cancel the individual lists and use the open political party list.
The new law also cancels the women’s quota – 64 seats – replacing it with a stipulation that each party must nominate at least one female candidate on its list.
Participants in the EOHR conference stressed that removing the female quota is a violation against women rights.
They expressed concerns that new political parties will not want to nominate women that it will be difficult for women to get votes, which means that half the society [women] will not be represented in the next parliament.
According to the new law, 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 seats 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 conference’s participants also raised concerns that the new elections law sets hurdles for candidates to campaign and will only favor Islamist political parties who have the monetary resources to campaign in the newly expanded constituencies.
For the PA elections, the country will be divided into 184 constituencies, 126 of which will be contested for by individual candidates.
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.
“The new constituencies division is illogical … and gives room for former National Democratic Party members and the Muslim Brotherhood to dominate the elections,” said Abdul Ghaffar Shaker, deputy head of the Center of Arab and African Studies.
The law put together geographically separate districts, such as adding Shorouk suburb to the eastern Cairo district of Heliopolis. Meanwhile, Heliopolis was separated from its adjacent district, Nasr City, which would be in a new constituency along with the southeastern suburb of New Cairo.
"What kind of candidate can afford to travel and campaign in all these remote areas which have no geographical relation with each other unless they have the means and wealth to do so,” Shaker said.
Participants also said that there is yet to be clear criteria regarding monitoring the elections and the authority given to the monitors. The role of the judges is also still unclear.