Violations Prevail in Egypt’s Constitutional Referendum

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A protester opposing Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi with his hands chained takes part in a demonstration at Tahrir Square in Cairo 18 December 2012. (Photo: Reuters - Amr Abdallah Dalsh)

By: Rana Mamdouh

Published Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Cairo – The official results of the first round of Egypt’s constitutional referendum have yet to be released, but arguments over the outcome have already begun. Forces opposed to Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) insist that voters rejected the draft constitution by 66 percent. Morsi’s supporters, on the other hand, insist that the result was in their favor with 56.55 percent approving the constitution.

These contradictory reports come amidst silence from the supreme committee charged with supervising the constitutional referendum. Officials maintain that results will not be disclosed until the second round of voting, scheduled to take place next Saturday, 22 December 2012.

The numerous violations and irregularities reported during election day prompted civil political forces to protest again today in Tahrir Square and even in front of al-Ittihadiya presidential palace. From there, protesters headed to the headquarters of the supreme committee for supervising the constitutional referendum and demanded a re-vote.

Political forces said that the aim of the million people march against the referendum is to “challenge the fraud” that surpasses that of former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak. Many say that even Mubarak did not dare announce election results before voting ended.

The opposition National Salvation Front warned that “the lies included claiming the presence of a judge at every ballot box when in fact they put employees that take orders from them to supervise the election process.”

The Front based its assertions on human rights reports that documented wholesale violations on the day of the referendum, including members of the MB’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) falsely impersonating judges at 120 polling stations, according to a statement by Magdy Abdul-Hamid, the director of the Egyptian Association for Community Participation Enhancement.

Abdul-Hamid said that his association received hundreds of complaints in this regard and that is reason enough to annul the referendum.

Civil society observers were denied entry in all voting stations, while FJP’s delegates, who received permits from the National Council for Human Rights (NCHR), headed by Judge Hossam El Gheriany were allowed to be present.

Former presidential candidate Khaled Ali argued that not listing the articles of the draft constitution on the ballot renders the referendum invalid. He said that he filed a lawsuit before the administrative court to restage the first round of the referendum after including the text of the draft constitution on the election ballot.

The violations observed by the National Salvation Front and close to a hundred human rights organizations focused mainly on the presence of MB members inside polling places.

Other violations were observed as well, including the presence of unstamped election ballots and the presence of full ballot boxes in some voting stations.

In addition, rosters in some polling places included the names of dead voters while names of eligible voters were absent from some rosters. The phosphoric ink that marked one’s voting was easily removable and some polling stations did not open their doors until 3 pm even though they were supposed to open at 8 am.

Despite all these violations, the FJP claimed that the referendum “took place in an atmosphere of fairness and transparency under full judicial supervision, observed by the local and international media and in the presence of human rights organizations.”

The party called on the rest of the Egyptian people in the remaining governorates to ensure participation in the second stage of the referendum “to complete building the state institutions.”

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.

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