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Preparations for Egypt's next presidential elections underway

Al Ahram

In a statement this week, the Higher Council for Judges (HCJ) announced that members of the National Election Commission (NEC) that will be responsible for supervising Egypt's 2018 presidential election had been selected. The HCJ said 15 August that Lasheen Ibrahim will head the NEC and Mahmoud El-Sherif act as his deputy. Ibrahim and El-Sherif are the most senior deputy chairmen at the Court of Cassation.

The board will include Mahmoud Abdel-Hamid and Abu Bakr Marawan from the Court of Appeals; Mohamed Abu Deif Pasha and Abdel-Salam Mahmoud from the Administrative Prosecution Authority; Faris Saad and Ahmed Abdel-Hamid Abboud from the State Council and Hani Mohamed Ali and Nadia El-Shahawi from the State Cases Authority. Minister of Parliamentary Affairs Omar Marawan said this week that the site of the NEC's headquarters and its budget will be announced within days. The NEC's first task, expected to begin early 2018, will be to revise voter lists.

Meanwhile, possible candidates in next year's presidential election say the work of the NEC needs to be complemented by guarantees the poll will be fair and transparent. Reform and Development Party (RDP) head Mohamed Anwar El-Sadat said in a message to the head of the NEC 15 August that the commission must apply "rules that will safeguard next year's presidential candidates from media defamation campaigns and ensure that state authorities remain neutral throughout the poll."

"In the forthcoming presidential poll, no candidate must be above criticism, as long as the criticism is lawful and not based on character assassination," said El-Sadat. In a another message to Makram Mohamed Ahmed, the head of the Higher Council for Media Regulation (HCMR), El-Sadat said the HCMR "needs to ensure media outlets are treated equally and do not promote particular candidates."

El-Sadat, a former independent MP, was expelled from parliament in February after an ethics committee found him guilty of forging the signatures of MPs on a draft NGO law. He was also accused of tarnishing the image of parliament in international circles and attending a human rights conference in Switzerland without parliamentary approval. Although Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi has not yet officially declared that he will run in next year's presidential poll, some political parties announced this week that they will organise rallies in support of El-Sisi.

The Free Egyptians Party and the Future of Nation Party, with 118 MPs in parliament (20 per cent), announced they will hold a number of public rallies in Egyptian governorates in the next few weeks in support of El-Sisi for next year's ballot. Another campaign by the name of "Together with You for the Sake of Egypt" will be launched Sunday. Ahmed Abdel-Hady, head of the campaign and chair of the Egypt Youth Party, said 10 political parties will attend Sunday's rally to declare their support for President El-Sisi's re-election and their appreciation for his role in "saving Egypt from the Muslim Brotherhood regime."

Article 142 of Egypt's 2014 constitution stipulates presidential candidates must first secure the endorsement of a minimum of 20 MPs, or 25,000 citizens from across at least 15 governorates.
 

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