23 May 2010
Out of a total of 576 candidates listed in the upcoming mid-term elections of the Shura Council, the Higher Election Commission (HEC) has excluded 67 of the nominees because their papers were incomplete.
Elections are to be held in June in 67 constituencies in all Egypt’s governorates. It is required by law that at least half the candidates must be agricultural or industrial labourers.
There are 364 seats in the Shura Council, the upper house of the Egyptian parliament. Two thirds of the members (176) are elected for six year terms; half of them (88) elected every three years. The remaining 88 are appointed by the president.
Ten opposition parties have nominated 45 candidates, with the number of opposition candidates increasing by nine since the last elections in 2007.
The membership of 44 appointed members was terminated; from among them eight Copts out of a total 11 Coptic Shura members.
The ruling National Democratic Party has put up 92 candidates, 35 of whom are new members. It also listed three Coptic nominees: Eid Labib (Mallawi and Deir Abu Mawwas); Anwar Bekheet (Alexandria); and Atef Hefzallah Khella (Assiut). Hoda al-Tablawi (Kafr al-Sheikh). is the NDP’s only woman candidate. Some 14 Copts have nominated themselves as independents.
The Cairo independent daily al-Masry al-Youm said the fielding of the Coptic candidates by the NDP resulted in a fevered climate since these constituencies are known to be Islamist strongholds. But many activists considered the move a positive step on the part of the NDP.
Intissar Nessim, chairman of the Cairo Court of Appeals and president of HEC, has warned candidates against using slogans or symbols that may affect citizenship rights and principles of equality and social solidarity; or propagating discriminatory material regarding gender or religion. It is also prohibited to receive any funds from foreign sources to spend on propaganda or to be used to elect a specific person or to promote boycott of the elections. Mr Nessim stressed the importance of not using any religious slogans disclosing that the elections would be held under judicial supervision.
“Egyptian citizens who are outside Egypt must go to the Egyptian Embassy in their host country to apply for a voting card. On returning to Egypt they can vote in their original constituencies,” Mr Nessim said. He pointed out that NGOs working within the official legal frame were allowed to monitor the elections with the coordination of the National Council for Human Rights.