Legislative elections in Egypt 1995: Rights and guarantees

A study of the system of legislative elections in Egypt

Prepared by Mohammad el-Ghamry

Published in Cairo by CHRLA, The Center for Human Rights Legal Aid, September 1995


Part 1: Development of the legislative electoral system in Egypt over the past decade

Part 2: The constitutional and legal framework for legislative elections in Egypt

Part 3: Proposals by CHRLA to ensure free and fair elections

Appendix 1: The major electoral systems in use in the world

Appendix 2: Inter-Parliamentary Council Declaration on Criteria for Free and Fair Elections

Appendix 3: Memorandum presented by the main political parties to the president


Introduction

With the approach of the President's invitation to Egyptians to cast their votes at the end of November 1995 to elect members to the 444 places of the People's Assembly in its new five-year legislative session starting 13 December, there is heated debate within political, party and legal circles about the availability of legal and practical guarantees necessary to ensure the coming legislative elections are free and fair, especially after the Egyptian government ignored the 'memorandum' presented by the main opposition parties to the Presidency last August demanding the provision of real guarantees for fair elections.(See appendix 3)

The debate over the coming legislative elections becomes more heated as it coincides with continuing acts of violence and terrorism due to the escalated security confrontation between the government and armed Islamist groups (Gama'at Islamiya) and the continuing enforcement of the Emergency Law and other exceptional laws on the grounds of fighting terrorism.

The said elections also coincide with the government tendency to take both legislative and non-legislative measures which impose more restrictions on the freedom of opinion and expression, and narrow the allowed margin of democracy in the country, e.g. the 'Anti-Terrorism Law' No. 97/1992 and Law No. 93/1995 known as the 'Assassination of the Press'. In addition, there are grounded fears of escalating security confrontations following the government referral of some Muslim Brotherhood members to a military court.

CHRLA believes that the coming legislative elections represent the only democratic alternative to the current crisis as they offer the opportunity for 'public participation' as oppose to the 'security option' which has so far failed in putting an end to acts of violence and terrorism.

The success of the coming elections in achieving this role is undoubtedly conditional on the availability of guarantees for freedom, fairness, impartiality and equal opportunities for all parties and candidates.

Based on the above, the Center, keen on positive participation in the current debate over the Egyptian electoral system and necessary guarantees for the conduct of fair elections, presents this report - Legislative Elections in Egypt - November 1995. Rights and Guarantees.

This report constitutes a study of Egyptian laws regulating both the form and content of legislative elections. It is an evaluation striving to identify major restrictions and obstacles facing a successful process of democratization in Egypt. The Center concludes this study with a set of recommendations for guarantees indispensable to ensure that the coming legislative elections are conducted in a free and fair manner.


Introduction | Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Appendix 1 | Appendix 2 | Appendix 3

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