The stage of collecting support and running for the Egyptian presidential elections
Political controversy surrounds the scene
A report issued by the Presidential Election Observatory of the Maat Foundation for Peace, Development and Human Rights
February 12, 2018
The National Elections Authority in Egypt closed the door to candidacy after it was opened for ten days during the period from 20 - 29 January 2018, and then announced the initial list of potential candidates, and began to receive appeals, which it will work to decide on in the coming days, then announce the final list of candidates. And their electoral symbols on February 24, 2018, after which we will move to a new stage of the presidential elections, which is the stage of election campaigning.
The candidacy stage has ended with the presence of only two candidates, one of whom is the current president, Mr. Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, and his rival is the head of the Egyptian Al-Ghad Party, Mr. Moussa Mostafa Moussa, after the nomination initiatives of other personalities ended - the Egyptian street was counting them among the potential candidates - To their exit away from the race, either because of withdrawal in protest to what they described as “violations and violations marred the stage,” as is the case with the human rights lawyer Khaled Ali and former parliamentarian Muhammad Anwar Sadat, or for legal reasons accompanied by a great controversy in the Egyptian street, as is the case with Mr. Sami Annan, the former Chief of Staff of the Egyptian Armed Forces, who is currently under investigation on charges of violating military laws in announcing his candidacy for the presidency.
The stage of collecting the support and recommendations of the representatives of Parliament and running for the elections was full of successive political events, events that left a wide debate in the Egyptian political street, and created a state of intense polarization among those who see some practices and procedures that affected some candidates as a derogation from the integrity of the electoral process and led to a limitation. The competition between the current president and a competing candidate who until recently was among the president’s strongest supporters and supporters, as well as the circumstances surrounding his presentation of his papers for candidacy at the last moments of confusion and suspicion, and others who defend the electoral process from a procedural and political perspective and throw the ball into the court of the opposition forces that they see - According to their assessment, it failed to present serious competitors who enjoy popularity and sound legal position, and we believe that the state of controversy and polarization will have a direct impact on the rates of participation in the electoral process during the next phase.
From a legal, institutional and procedural perspective, the previous phase did not witness meaningful complaints about the performance of the National Elections Commission in its first broad tasks months after its formation, as the commission’s behavior was characterized by impartiality and professionalism, and it was not noticed bias for one party at the expense of the other, and it seemed to be able to master its organizational and logistical tools. However, there are complaints raised by two of the potential candidates who later withdrew (Khaled Ali and Anwar Sadat) stating that the committee did not respond to their requests related to obtaining a statement of the number of agencies that the first obtained, or to investigate the complaints sent by the second to investigate harassment. And preventing him from reserving a hall to announce his candidacy for the presidency, however, the Commission responded to these complaints that it was not legally interested in providing statistics on the proxies submitted to the candidate, but it did not issue an explanation regarding the complaint of Mr. Anwar Sadat.
The last phase - including the one preceding the announcement of the election schedule - was marked by the presence of a large number of campaigns in support of the current President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, as widespread propaganda activities were carried out, many of which continued until the candidacy stage and after the announcement of the initial lists of candidates, and the observers and observers see The electoral scene shows that many of these campaigns and propaganda activities carry violations of the election law, especially since some of them witnessed the participation of executive officials in propaganda conferences for a specific candidate, which constitutes an explicit violation of the rules governing the electoral process.
In this context, the Presidential Election Observatory of the Maat Foundation "Egypt 2018" issues its fourth report on following up the procedures and environment surrounding the electoral process during the candidacy period, collecting popular support from citizens and the recommendation of parliament representatives, which includes an analysis of the legislative and organizational aspects, as well as a monitoring of the political features of the stage. And the relevant remarks, and finally the recommendations that must be taken to improve the procedures of the electoral process.
The legal and regulatory framework for the stage of collecting support and submitting applications for candidacy
First, the laws governing the stage of collecting support and submitting applications for candidacy
The actual atmosphere for the Egyptian presidential elections began with the announcement by the National Elections Authority that the door for candidacy will be opened on the twentieth of January 2018, in accordance with Article 40 of the Constitution, which affirmed that the procedures for electing the President of the Republic should begin at least 120 days before the end of the presidential term, and the final result will be announced before The end of this period is at least thirty days, which is the period approved by the constitution.
After ten days have passed since the door for candidacy was opened, the National Elections Commission closed the door to candidacy on January 29, 2018, and Article 142 of the constitution has set an important condition that is a breaking point for anyone intending to run, and it is the same condition that was mentioned in the Presidential Elections Law in its article The second is that the candidate must obtain at least 20 recommendations from the members of Parliament, or that at least twenty-five thousand citizens who have the right to vote in at least fifteen governorates must support him, with a minimum of one thousand supporters from each of them.
The first article of the law organizing the presidential elections stipulated that the candidate must be an Egyptian born to Egyptian parents, not be pregnant, or any of his parents, or the nationality of another country, have a high qualification, enjoy civil and political rights, and have performed military service Or exempted from it by law, and his age is not less than forty years of age on the day the door is opened. According to the constitution, the new president must be officially announced on May 2, 2018, that is, thirty days before the end of the current president's term, which is scheduled for June 3, 2018.
Second, the National Elections Commission
The presidential elections this time come after the formation of the National Election Commission approved by the Egyptian constitution, which is the body that will fully manage the electoral process, and which issued Resolution No. 2 of 2018 regarding the detailed schedule for the presidential elections. After the candidacy window was closed on January 29, 2018, the Commission announced The tentative list of candidates' names, in compliance with the timetable, included the current president, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who is running for a second term, as well as the potential candidate Musa Mustafa Musa, head of the Ghad Party C.
The commission also announced the opening of the door to receive the candidates 'objections on February 1 and 2, 2018, and after examining these applications and deciding on them on February 5, 2018, and after a series of appeals and adjudicating them, the commission will announce the final list of candidates' names and electoral symbols on February 24, 2018. After that, let's move on to a new stage of the presidential election.
During the last period, and since the announcement of the opening of the door for candidacy until the announcement of the initial list of candidates' names, the Commission issued a number of decisions related to the candidacy phase, including specifying the papers and documents required for the candidate, as well as setting the rules and procedures governing the support of citizens for those who want to run, which were defined by Resolution No. 5 of the year 2018, the most prominent of which is that a citizen may not support a candidate more than once, and more than one willing to run.
In Decision No. 6 of 2018, the Commission announced the right of the voter who is in a governorate other than the governorate in which his electoral residence is located according to his fixed place of residence with the national ID card, to cast his vote in the election of the President of the Republic before one of the election sub-committees within the governorate in which he will be present during polling days It is a very important decision that will undoubtedly contribute to increasing the voting rate, given that a large number of citizens are expatriates from the governorate of their birth and joined work places outside their home governorates, and since returning to their place of birth was difficult during the voting period, they chose to refrain from participating. The commission’s decision will assist those wishing to cast their votes, regardless of their location.
The Commission’s Decision No. 7 of 2018 stipulates what regulates the process of recommending parliamentarians, as the decision ensured that a single representative would not recommend more than one candidate, a decision that prevented a number of potential candidates from running in the election race due to the support of the majority of parliament members for the current president, Abd Al-Fattah al-Sisi, and thus there was only a small number of recommendations remaining, would not have been on an agreement to support another candidate, were it not for the success of the candidate Musa Mustafa Musa at the last moment in obtaining the recommendation of 20 deputies.
The Commission also issued Decision No. 13 of 2018, regarding the objection of any person who applied to run for candidacy against any other candidacy request, so that the Commission examines the objections and appeals and responds to them within a time period specified by the Commission. It also allowed those who were excluded from candidacy to submit a grievance and be answered also in A time period set by the Authority on February 9, 2018.
Electoral competition ... political controversy surrounding the scene
At a time when the political forces were busy defining their vision of supporting a particular candidate, a number of potential candidates faced many obstacles during the liberation of candidacy agencies from citizens, which caused many complaints and accusations, whether against the National Elections Authority, or against other candidates, This eventually caused the reluctance of a number of personalities who had already started collecting agencies
The presidential elections almost reached a stage of complete non-competition, before the head of the al-Ghad party left to compete with Sisi after obtaining 20 recommendations from parliament members, and despite the large number of rumors about this candidate, which we will discuss in detail later, but the stage of collecting agencies settled on the existence of Two potential candidates for the presidential election battle.
The most striking political scenes in the electoral process are the circumstances of the emergence of a rival candidate for the current president at the last minute, and following the spread of impressions stating that there are those seeking to present a competing candidate to fulfill the “competitive form” of the electoral process without paying attention to the essence of this competition, especially since the rival candidate (Moussa Mustafa Moussa) obtained the remembrance of the members of the House of Representatives quickly and in the last moments and easily compared to other potential candidates who announced that the doors of Parliament were closed in front of them, in addition to the presidential candidate himself, as mentioned above, who was responsible for a huge campaign in support of the current president strongly even hours before announcing his candidacy, to the point that His personal Facebook page carried a picture of President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi.
As soon as he submitted his candidacy papers, Musa Mustafa Moussa received a major media and political attack, in addition to his accusation that he supported President Sisi and submitted only to preserve the president's image in the presidential elections. The attack on Musa included disclosing the existence of cases and court rulings preventing his candidacy, and doubts about his academic qualification, Some of these accusations are the subject of a legal communication that a lawyer submitted a few days ago to the competent authorities.
Part of the political controversy went to the presidential candidate who did not complete the candidacy procedures Lieutenant General Sami Anan, who officially announced his candidacy on the twentieth of January 2018, in addition to announcing the appointment of Counselor Hisham Geneina, former head of the Central Auditing Organization, as his deputy for human rights and constitution activation, and Dr. Hazem Hosni, professor at the Faculty of Economics and Political Science, as his deputy for knowledge wealth And political and economic empowerment and a spokesman. This announcement sparked a lot of reactions between the accusations of Sami Anan of joining the Brotherhood and seeking to win their side, and the accusations of forgery, and on January 23, 2018, that is, less than three days after Annan announced his candidacy, the armed forces charged, through an official statement, three charges. Against Anan for committing legal violations, namely:
- Committing the crime of forgery in the official documents, indicating that his service in the armed forces was unlawfully terminated, which led to his being included in the voter database unlawfully.
- Sami Anan's candidacy statement included what constituted an explicit incitement against the armed forces, with the aim of causing a wedge between them and the Egyptian people
- Announcing his candidacy for the presidential elections without obtaining the approval of the armed forces or taking the necessary measures to end their summons to him.
Following the statement of the armed forces, the National Elections Authority announced the removal of the name of the candidate, Lieutenant General Sami Anan, former Chief of Staff of the Egyptian Armed Forces, from the voter database, which made him excluded from running in the elections, and only hours passed until Sami Anan was arrested and presented to the Military Prosecution To investigate the charges against him.
The commission responded extensively on January 25, 2018 to the issue of removing Anan after the formation of a committee to examine the complaint, and it has already been found that there are legal violations committed by Annan, which is that he is not able to exercise his political rights throughout his military service, and it was found that he is still on the strength to prepare for the armed forces. If Annan wanted to run, he should have submitted a request to end the hostilities before submitting the candidacy, which Annan did not do.
Part of the controversy went to the withdrawing presidential candidate, Khaled Ali Khaled Ali surprised the opposition political forces by announcing his candidacy relatively early, on the eleventh of January 2018, without agreement and coordination with all opposition forces to support him in the electoral competition, and Khaled set his sights on obtaining 25,000 power of attorneys before the candidacy window closed, despite his seriousness in the competition. However, he was unable to complete the sufficient number of proxies, according to a private source, Amr Adib, the journalist, that Khaled Ali was able to collect 19,300 powers of attorney days before the candidacy window was closed, a number that was already confirmed by Khaled Ali's campaign. However, Khaled Ali decided to withdraw from running in the elections, before completing the required agencies.
Khaled Ali's justifications for withdrawing were primarily political, as he accused the Interior Ministry of arresting a number of his electoral campaign members in some governorates, as well as the presence of obstacles for citizens who want to work for him in some governorates, as well as the spread of electoral propaganda for President Sisi in a number of Squares and public places, in addition to the media attack against Khaled Ali and his election campaign because of his competition with President Sisi.
A few days before his withdrawal, Khaled Ali filed a complaint on January 22, 2018, in which he said that a number of agencies were stolen from some of his supporters, while the authority denied receiving any official complaint about this matter.
Part of the justifications for Khaled’s withdrawal came under pressure from the opposition forces, which was revealed by the statement of Khaled al-Balshi, spokesman for the Ali campaign, that Khaled’s supporters did not want to run in the elections, in reference to the political forces classified as opposition, indicating that the public is not satisfied with the electoral process.
Campaigns in support of President Sisi were an important motive of the controversy surrounding the electoral process, as the civil forces supporting President Sisi began to move early in October 2017, through the launch of more than 10 campaigns calling for President Sisi to run for the next presidential elections, in order to win a period Second term. Among the campaigns that have received acceptance from Sisi’s supporters are “With Sisi for the Harvest”, “Supporters”, “Supporting and Nominating Sisi,” for its adoption, “A Citizen Supporting the President,” “With You for Egypt” and “With You for Egypt” “Continue, Sisi,” “Sisi, stability and development.”
After more than four months of work, a number of campaigns ceased to exist and a number of others succeeded in obtaining great support, both in terms of financing, and a number of businessmen and public and partisan personalities took care of this aspect, or in terms of providing logistical support represented in facilitating all state institutions to do this Campaigns, and not placing any obstacles before them to urge President Al-Sisi to run in the elections, which caused widespread criticism of the impartiality of state institutions in the file of the presidential elections, in violation of the constitution and laws organizing presidential elections.
Statistics for the candidacy and support gathering stage
In an official statement on January 26, 2018, Counselor Mahmoud Al-Sharif, a spokesman for the National Elections Authority, confirmed that the total number of citizens ’endorsements in the real estate registry offices reached one million and 350 thousand powers of attorney, up to 29 names. Although the commission did not announce the amount of endorsements these potential candidates received, campaigns to support President Al-Sisi confirmed that more than 900,000 citizens have authorized the President al-Sisi.
Not much time passed, until the National Elections Authority officially announced on January 30, 2018 the tentative list of candidates who had fulfilled the conditions and candidacy papers, namely the current President Abdel Fattah Saeed Hussein Khalil Al-Sisi and his fame (Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi), by obtaining 549 recommendations from parliament representatives. In addition to 161,707 citizens' proxies. The commission also accepted the candidate Musa Mustafa Musa, head of the Al-Ghad Party, after submitting a number of 20 recommendations from parliament members, without obtaining any proxies from citizens. The authority did not announce the rest of the number of agencies due to the lack of any other candidates.
Civil society and procedures for applying to participate in the follow-up of the electoral process
The Egyptian constitution defined in its Article No. 208 the competencies of the National Elections Authority, as it alone granted it to administer all referendums and elections, including the presidential, and in turn, Article 13 of Law No. 198 of 2017 regarding the National Elections Commission was approved, which defined the authority’s competencies in setting the organizing rules To follow referendums and elections, whether by the Egyptian and foreign media or civil society organizations, and other parties wishing to follow up the elections, so that the Commission shall have the competence to monitor the extent of compliance with the rules approved by the Commission and related to follow-up.
The Commission issued Decision No. 8 of 2018, on January 8, 2018, regarding the controls and timings for the follow-up of Egyptian, foreign and international civil society organizations to the 2018 presidential elections, and this decision is the methodology for the work of organizations wishing to follow the elections, as the decision clarified the conditions for the organizations to apply for follow-up, and from The most important of them is that they should be of good reputation, and have prior experience in the fields of election follow-up, while the requirement of previous experience is an obstacle for organizations wishing to follow up for the first time, and it has also defined the terms of reference of these organizations, whether local or foreign, and the prohibitions that came on top of the prohibition of interference in any way in The progress of the electoral process or influencing the voters, while the time period for receiving the requests of these organizations was set between 9-15 January 2018.
The Commission issued a new Decision No. 20 of 2018 regarding extending the period of receiving requests from Egyptian and foreign civil society organizations wishing to follow up on the presidential elections to January 22, 2018, in order to open new opportunities for a greater number of organizations to follow the elections, while it was renewed again until February 1 as the last opportunity. The commission issued successive decisions to extend the registration period for observers wishing to follow the elections, the latest of which was Resolution No. 34 of 2018, to extend the registration period to February 15, 2018.
After closing the door to applying to civil society organizations wishing to follow the presidential elections, the Ministry of Social Solidarity announced that 64 local and 9 international organizations had obtained a certificate from the ministry to apply to the National Elections Commission. Indeed, 64 local and 9 international organizations have submitted applications to the Commission, in addition to Three national councils.
The National Elections Authority announced its approval of the request of 9 foreign and 48 local organizations, in addition to three specialized national councils, to follow up on the presidential elections, and their names came as follows:
Calls for boycott ... between the opposition and support parties for the regime
The last stage witnessed the call of some opposition forces to boycott the elections. On January 30, 2018, a coalition that includes a number of opposition parties and personalities in Egypt called for a boycott of the presidential elections, and this alliance appeared under the name “Civil Democratic Movement,” which called on the Egyptian people to participate in this position. Politician. This movement includes eight parties: the Constitution, Justice, Egyptian Social Democratic, Dignity Movement, Freedom Egypt, Socialist Popular Alliance, Reform, Development, Living and Freedom (under establishment), in addition to the participation of 150 politicians, activists and public figures, most notably Hamdeen Sabahi, former presidential candidate and Hisham Geneina, former president of the Central Apparatus. Accountants and one of the leaders of the Annan campaign.
The movement accused the state of closing the public sphere, violating the constitution, disrespecting rights and freedoms, biasing Sisi in elections, and harnessing the media to distort competitors. And they demanded the masses of people to stay at home and not go out to vote in the elections.
On the other hand, a number of political parties took the initiative to adopt an opposing call calling on citizens to participate extensively and not respond to calls for boycott, and among the most important parties that responded to this call is the Wafd Party, which is one of the oldest liberal organizations on the Egyptian scene, and the Free Egyptians Party, which was established after the January 2011 revolution and has a large number Of the seats in Parliament, the Future of Watan Party, which was established after June 30, 2013 and includes the largest number of partisan representatives, as well as a number of other small parties.
Concluding remarks and recommendations
The Egyptian presidential elections for the year 2018 are the fourth pluralist presidential elections in the history of Egypt and the third presidential elections after the revolution of 25 January 2011. The presidential elections are held for the first time under the full supervision of the National Elections Authority, which is an independent body whose formation was approved by the Egyptian constitution, and it is entrusted with managing the entire electoral process. This will give the elections more transparency and chaos, but the political atmosphere and the state of polarization surrounding the stage of collecting support and candidacy, the circumstances of the withdrawal of candidates or their banning on legal grounds, as well as the controversy raised by the candidacy of President Sisi's current competitor, are all factors that will inevitably affect the course of the process and its outcomes. And the nature of participating in it.
The difficult security, regional and economic challenges that Egypt faces, especially in light of the growing terrorist tide in the region, the bold measures that have been taken for financial and economic reform over the past four years, and the accumulation that Egypt has witnessed over the past seven years that have witnessed two massive revolutions, all of these facts required The electoral scene passes as quietly, stable and harmoniously as possible, especially since the outcomes of the electoral process will be decisive in completing the process of economic and political procedures and completing the building of national institutions, which imposes the necessity of ensuring that the rest of the electoral process procedures come in compliance with the rules of the constitution, law, political and national consensus, and action To break the state of polarization and adhere to the rules of transparency, integrity and procedural integrity.
In light of what He witnessed the stage of opening the door for candidacy and collecting proxies from controversy, and in light of the facts and observations highlighted in the current report, the Presidential Elections Observatory of the Maat Foundation provides the following recommendations to all active stakeholders, which are recommendations related to the remaining stages of the electoral process in Egypt:
- The necessity for the National Elections Commission to intervene in relation to the violating advertising campaigns, and to quickly intervene to stop and fine the person whom the campaign supports in the event of committing a violating propaganda, with a focus in the coming period on electoral bribes, and an emphasis on the commitment of executives to complete neutrality during the electoral process.
- Increasing the Supreme Council for the Media's oversight of newspapers and satellite programs, which shows the clear bias of many programs in favor of a particular candidate, and attacks on competing candidates, as well as incitement against them and the use of unprofessional method.
- Improving and developing the legal and procedural frameworks for partisan competition, and working to support parties by creating an enabling environment, and developing relevant legislation, especially legislation regulating peaceful assembly, freedom of expression, parliamentary and local council elections laws.
- Political parties should develop their capabilities to communicate with citizens and gain their support, and activate their organizational presence at local levels in a way that guarantees them a popular back in the electoral competition stages.
- Reconsidering boycott calls in light of the recognized facts of participation-based electoral processes and the legal rules that criminalize non-voting.