19 February 2013

Egypt: SCC Refuses Elections Law

The Supreme Constitutional Court (SCC), under presiding Judge Maher el-Beheiri, said on Monday 18/2/2013 that some articles of the election bill are unconstitutional.

In its report, the SCC said the two laws violated several articles of the new constitution, at the top of which is one regulating the role of workers' and farmers' representatives in parliamentary elections.

"While Article 229 of the constitution states that a worker is the one who is being hired by others against wages or salary, the laws state that a worker is the one who generates his or her income from a manual or intellectual production in agriculture, industry and services," the court's report reads.

More significantly, the SCC report stipulates that Egypt's electoral map must be redrawn to represent citizens in accordance with Article 113 of the new constitution. "These districts must not be re-drawn in an arbitrary way and the Shura Council must take public interests into account when discussing these districts," said the SCC report.

The court also stated that, while Article 113 of the constitution states that candidates in general elections must be "Egyptians empowered with complete political and civilian rights," the two laws only state that candidates must be "Egyptian."

The SCC also found that, "while Article 232 of the constitution states that leading officials of ousted President Hosni Mubarak's defunct National Democratic Party (NDP) and deputies of that party in the two houses of parliament elected before the 25 January Revolution in 2011 (in 2005 and 2010) must be barred from pursuing political activities - including running in parliamentary and presidential elections - for ten years, the laws state that NDP deputies who were members in 'any' - rather than 'both' - of the two pre-revolution houses of parliament must be stripped of their political rights."

The SCC also ruled that the two laws granting Egyptian diplomats - rather than judges - the right to supervise and monitor expatriate voting ran counter to Article 238 of the constitution, which states that all constitutional declarations that had stated this right in 2012 must be revoked.

The SCC also ruled another article, giving citizens who had not performed military service the right to run in elections, unconstitutional.

The court also said the two laws must be amended to grant the Supreme Elections Commission total authority to supervise and monitor the upcoming polls. "This must begin with the opening of the candidacy registration period and end with the announcement of the final vote results," the court asserted.

The SCC further stated that the two laws must detail the conditions necessary to allow licensed civil society organizations to participate in supervising the elections. The same rules, the SCC added, must apply to the media.

Finally, the constitutional court stated that the two laws must be amended to grant the Supreme Elections Commission all the tools necessary to ensure that citizens could not cast multiple ballots, especially if the election/referendum in question was conducted over two or more days.

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