Egypt on track to hold 2018 presidential elections

By Mohammed Mahmoud in Cairo


A picture taken on February 28th shows a billboard with an election poster for Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi erected next to a bridge overlooking the river Nile in Cairo's island of Manial. [Khaled Desouki/AFP]

Egypt's presidential elections, scheduled for the second half of March, will be monitored by 68 local and international organisations and entities, the National Electoral Commission (NEC) announced last month.

The commission, an independent body charged with administering referendums and overseeing all election operations, revealed on Monday (February 26th) the list of approved monitors, which will include nine international organisations, NEC spokesman Mahmoud al-Sharif said.

These comprise Association Ma’ona for Human Rights and Immigration, the Arab Organisation for Human Rights, the Libyan Academic Organisation, the Sweden Centre for Human Rights, the Global Council for Tolerance and Peace, Volunteers without Borders, the Ecumenical Alliance for Human Rights and Development in Geneva, the Assyrian Monitor for Human Rights and the International Centre for Research and Human Rights in Brussels.

The approved monitors also include 53 local organisations and six Arab and foreign entities -- the International Organisation of La Francophonie, Community of Sahel-Saharan States, the African Union, the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the Arab Parliament and the Arab League.

They will be joined by Egypt's National Council for Human Rights, the National Council for Women, and the National Council for Disability Affairs.

The elections are scheduled for March 16th to 18th overseas, and for March 26th to 28th inside Egypt, according to the NEC.

If no candidate obtains the majority of votes, a three-day run-off round will commence on April 19th abroad, and on April 24th in Egypt.

Two candidates -- incumbent president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Ghad Party chief Moussa Mustafa Moussa -- have been approved to run.

Raising awareness on need to vote

Ayman Aqeel, head of Maat Foundation for Peace, Development and Human Rights, one of the local organisations monitoring the elections, said a work team has been formed to observe the election process across the country.

"A fully-equipped operations room has been set up to communicate with the team and issue reports throughout the various phases of the election," he told Al-Mashareq.

So far, Maat has issued four reports on the election, covering the start of nominations and the announcement of the final list of presidential candidates.

"Our organisation also has kicked off a large-scale awareness campaign to urge citizens to go to the polls," Aqeel said.

The awareness campaign features a radio series, dubbed "Ostaz Mufeed Ayesh", which started airing on Thursday (February 22nd).

The series stars a number of artists, including veteran actress Madiha Hamdi, and actors Tarek Desouki, Mohammed Abdul Jawad, Khaled al-Dahabi and Humam Abdul Motaleb.

"This is part of our organisation’s plan to raise election awareness and urge citizens to positively take part in the election to ensure transparency and integrity of the vote," he said.

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Please, I need information on my poll station, its number and my number on the lists.