With little more than a week to go for the presidential elections—they will be held on 26 – 27 May—and with the campaigns of the two contenders Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi and Hamdeen Sabahi in full swing,
the pivotal questions of monitoring and securing the balloting beg answers. Since Watani International already offered its readers extensive, comprehensive, in-depth coverage of the election scene in its last two issues, and since this scene is as yet unchanged, we decided to give our readers a glimpse of what is going on in the election monitoring and security domains.
Local and international monitoring
Secretary-General of the Supreme Presidential Elections (SPEC) Commission Abdel-Aziz Salman said that, with an eye on proving to the whole world that the elections are conducted by public will and under judicial supervision, the SPEC has granted 80 local and six international rights organisations permission to monitor the elections.
Among the international bodies monitoring the elections is the European Union’s Egyptian elections mission which plans to have some 100 observers in Egypt to do the job. Mario David who chairs the mission said that the large number of monitors aims at ensuring that the balloting is fair and free of any attempt at vote fraud. This, he said, is the only measure of success of the elections.
The commission, Mr David insisted, is not concerned with assessing the political situation in Egypt, neither is it concerned with who of the candidates wins since this is basically the decision of the Egyptian people. The sole concern of the commission, he repeated, was the absolute fairness of the balloting. To ensure this fairness, the mission’s role does not stop at the polling stations, he said, but extends to monitor the vote count and the final result.
For his part, Salah Salam of the National Council for Human Rights (NCHR) which will also be monitoring the elections said that the NCHR is setting up operations centres where rights workers will receive complaints of any violations during the balloting. Violations will be reported to the bodies concerned, and a comprehensive report will be compiled once the balloting is over. The NCHR has branches in five governorates—Alexandria, Port Said, Ismailiya, and Kafr al-Sheikh in the Delta; and Sohag in the South of Egypt—besides its main centre in Cairo. Representatives from the NCHR will be on site to observe the polling stations on the election days, Mr Salam said.
The police has the upper hand over the terrorists
While many in the public have large concerns regarding security on election days, security experts appear assured that there will be no problems to reckon with.
Major General Ali Zein al-Abideen, a security expert and law professor at the Police Academy, was upbeat when Watani contacted him. “The elections will go on in peace,” he said, “and this will prove beyond doubt that Egypt has the upper hand over [Islamist] terrorism. The military police will assume an active role in the security plan, side by side with the police.”
Strategic and security expert Major General Muhammad Ali Bilal said that the police and the military police are capable of ensuring that the balloting goes on in peace. “The voters, polling stations, and all public establishments and utilities will be well protected,” he said. “The Muslim Brothers (MB) have tried hard to disrupt work and study on campus at various Egyptian universities, but failed to do so despite the vicious terrorist acts they waged. Likewise, they will not be able to disrupt the balloting.”
“We have been steadily gaining experience in our fight against terrorism these last three years,” Major General Talaat Moussa told Watani. “With support from the military police, we will be in perfect position to ensure peaceful elections. We will tolerate no violence or unrest to spoil the aspirations of the Egyptian people come voting day.”
Major General Abdel-Moniem Kato said he was sure the elections would be at least 90 per cent secured. He summed it all up when he asked all Egyptian voters to go down, head high, unafraid, to cast their votes. “You will be well-protected,” he ensured.
For full coverage of the election scene, visit:
18 May 2014