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Egypt: Judicial Supervision of Electoral Process to Be Eliminated

(July 31, 2017) On July 4, 2017, the Egyptian Council of Representatives (the parliament) approved a law on eliminating the role of the judiciary in supervising future parliamentary and presidential elections. The new law assigns the National Electoral Commission as the sole agency in charge of monitoring future general elections and referenda.  Two-thirds of the members of the Council voted in favor of the law.  (Gamal Essam El-Din, Egypt Parliament Approves Law Eliminating Judicial Supervision of Elections by 2024, AL-AHRAM NEWSPAPER (July 4, 2017).)

The board of the National Electoral Commission will consist of ten members, the director and nine senior judges from the State Council (the administrative court), the Court of Appeal, the Court of Cassation, and the State Cases Authority (brief description).  The members  are selected to work exclusively at the Commission for at least one six-year term.  (Egypt’s Parliament Approves Law to End Judicial Supervision of Elections by 2024, EGYPTIAN STREETS (July 5, 2017); Constitution of the Arab Republic of Egypt 2014, State Information Service website, art. 209 (unofficial English translation).)

Members of the Council of Representatives who voted for the law claim that it adheres to articles 208 and 210 of the Egyptian Constitution of 2014, which calls for the designation of the National Elecoral Commission as the only government body in charge of monitoring and supervising the electoral process. (Essam El-Din, supra.)  Article 208 states that the National Electoral Commission is exclusively responsible for managing referenda and presidential, parliamentary and local elections; article 210 provides that voting  and  the counting  of  votes  in  referenda  and  elections  run  by  the  Commission are to be administered by its affiliated members under the Commission’s overall supervision, which may use the help of members of judicial bodies if needed.  Article 210 further stipulates that full judicial supervision of the polls should be phased out within ten years.  (Constitution of the Arab Republic of Egypt 2014, arts. 208 & 210.)

On the other hand, members of the Council of Representatives who opposed the new law, such as Mustafa Bakri, argue that Egyptians place their full trust in the country’s judges, and the elimination of judicial supervision over the electoral process will make Egyptians skeptical of the results of all elections, whether parliamentary or presidential. Some other members of the Council even said that “the elimination of judicial supervision puts an end to the integrity of elections in Egypt.”  (Egypt’s Parliament Approves Law to End Judicial Supervision of Elections by 2024, supra.)