الأربعاء، ديسمبر 01، 2010

Step Aside, Justice: Judges Out of the Picture in Egypt's Elections



Step Aside, Justice: Judges out of the Picture in Egypt’s Elections


HuffPost

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/wael-nawara/step-aside-justice-judges_b_790063.html#postComment

Justice Waleed El Shafey is puzzled. Why would the regime bring judges to supervise elections where they have no authority or power to do their job. According to an interview with Al Masry Al Youm, Egypt’s largest independent daily newspaper, Judge Shafey described the humiliating episode he had to endure on Election Day, November 28th, when he tried to do the very job the constitution and the government entrusted him to do. As a member of the Election Committee, he was sent to investigate reports of alleged restrictions on voters’ access to stations in Badrashin, Giza, a part of greater Cairo. Upon arrival he was intercepted by a thug then was humiliated by a security officer. When Judge Shafey introduced himself, demanded access to investigate the reports and presented his credentials, the security officer confiscated his ID card and told him “to step aside”. Shafey was then held next to the gate by security soldiers for some time before he managed to get help from the regional committee.

When he later managed to walk around the place, he found out that government employees, supposedly manning the polling stations, are busy filling voting ballots. When he inquired what was happening one lady told him “we are just about to finish, Sir”. Judge Shafey tried to complain to the head of the Supreme Election Committee, but was made to understand that the Committee powers are limited and that there is nothing much that can be done really. So, he filed a complaint with the Attorney General and went to the press.

Another judge claimed that only “certain” judges were selected to be members of the Election Committee, implying that only judges known to be more loyal to the regime were chosen. Justice Shafey is surely no longer in this category, which means he should be prepared for unpleasant hardships coming his way. The regime uses all kinds of positive and negative incentives, punishments and manipulation tactics to try to keep Egypt’s Judiciary from repeating what happened during 2005 when the Judges Movement inspired Egyptians imagination with demands of independent judiciary and real guaranties to allow judges to do the job which the constitution then entrusted them to do, which was to supervise every election station with a real judge. At that time, Egypt’s Judges Club was ruled by an independent board and judges released several reports condemning the regime’s tactics in systematically rigging elections. Those judges involved were punished. Most of them were pushed to early retirement or even leave the country. Since then, the regime gained control on the Judges Club in the following board elections. In 2007, the regime also changed the constitution to restrict judges role in supervising the election to a symbolic, or even a PR one. And this is what Justice Shafey had to experience the hard way. When he was asked to step aside and allow the security to “produce” the results according to the preset script. A script where the ruling NDP obtained overwhelming majority in an opposition-free parliament.


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Comments:


RaWash

Hi Mr. Nawara, I've been following your blog for some time now, and wish to know your opinion of the new leadership in the Wafd party, and whether the party could be used as a vehicle for change in Egypt, and/or as a secular, liberal alternative to the MB as a opposition front.

Wael
Thanks. This is a tricky question. Wafd should play a strong role by virtue of its historic background­. Recent Internal Elections of Wafd & Internal Rotation of Power, brought a lot of optimism which was soon crushed when Mr. Badawy acquired Dostoor Newspaper & tried to change editorial line to become softer towards the regime, and failing to do that, he dismissed EIC Ibrahim Eisa. Then Wafd decided to participat­e in the elections although the regime rejected Wafd own demands of guarantees for fairer elections. However 44% of Wafdists internally voted for boycotting supporting National Assembly for Change's (NAC) position, which means that inside El Wafd, as well Tagamoa and other "old" parties, there are strong undercurre­nts which indeed can support the cause of change.



I say a trick question because with the MB inside the NAC, it can not play the role of a unified secular front against MBs. The ideal scenario will be if these undercurre­nts inside Wafd at some point gain more power and at that time Wafd can lead that front. Another possibilit­y albeit less likely is that NDP itself develops a "reform undercurre­nt" which launches an initiative for real reform & seeks support from secular opposition and then gains power within the NDP.



Because of current weaknesses of opposition­, stage is designed that way, change will be very circumstan­tial. I hate to admit that. But it seems we must still hope for the best odds to prevail rather than boldly back up a solid plan


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