EGYPT: Government says no international observers needed in upcoming elections

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Responding to increasing demands to allow international observers to monitor Sunday’s parliamentary elections, the Egyptian National Council for Human Rights stressed its ability to supervise the ballot without help from the outside.

Speaking this week to the foreign media after a meeting with the European Union’s delegation on election preparations, Mokbel Shaker, vice president of the NCHR, rebuffed as an insult any suggestion for international observers.


NCHR’s assurances come less than a week after a diplomatic tug of war between the U.S and Europe on one side and the Egyptian foreign ministry on the other. Washington had urged Cairo to allow foreign observers, but the foreign ministry criticized the suggestion as interference in Egypt’s affairs.

‘Monitoring elections through a foreign authority is a procedure that could only be taken in underdeveloped countries carrying out elections for the first time, and Egypt certainly doesn’t belong to such a category,’ Shaker said.

The council announced that it held training sessions for members of various civil organizations on how to keep a close eye on the electoral process. So far, 2,000 authorizations have been issued by NCHR via the Higher Electoral Committee for observers at polling stations on Nov.28.

The NCHR’s secretary-general, Mahmoud Kamel Mahmoud, said that an operations room and 70 hot lines throughout the country will be open during the elections to help with reporting on any violations. He said a detailed guide for voters will be published in all state-run newspapers.

The Italian commissionaire in Cairo, Andre Rizzo, described the meeting with the council’s senior members as ‘excellent and fruitful,’ adding that the NCHR is carrying out well-developed and consistent preparatory work for the elections.

The National Council for Human Rights is a semi-governmental council founded in 2003 under the auspices of Egypt’s higher parliamentary house, the Shura Council.

--Amro Hassan in Cairo