– Ismail Akwei
The Egyptian parliament has passed a law on Tuesday that phases out the judicial supervision of elections by 2024 and creates the National Electoral Commission that will be responsible for all elections.
The National Electoral Commission (NEC) law gained a two-thirds majority vote for the independent authority that will be solely responsible for holding general elections and referendums in Egypt.
The law was tabled for a debate in June when parliament was divided over Article 34 that states the complete phasing out of the judicial supervision by 2024 to offer the NEC some experience.
The NEC law is in line with articles 208 and 209 of the constitution, which state that “a National Electoral Commission should be created to supervise and monitor the country’s general elections – parliamentary, presidential and municipal – and referendums,” says a report cited by local media Ahram Online.
The NEC will be headed by the head of the Court of Cassation who will be part of a 10-member board that will serve a non-renewable six-year term and must be six years under the retirement age when sworn in.
The board includes senior judges affiliated with the Court of Cassation, the Court of Appeals, the State Council, the State Cases Authority, and the Administrative Prosecution Authority.
They will be selected by the Higher Council for Judges and endorsed by the president of the republic, the report says.
It adds that the NEC’s decisions can be appealed before administrative courts.
Egypt has had no independent electoral body and trusted in the judicial supervision of elections which has not yielded any result in curbing electoral fraud.
The country’s 1971 constitution stipulated that a judicial body must supervise elections administered primarily by the Ministry of Interior.
However, the Supreme Court suspended the law in 2000 and imposed full judicial supervision of elections.
The ministry continued to have oversight responsibility until in 2005 when two independent commissions – High Election Commission and Presidential Election Commission – were established to supervise elections.
They were scrapped after the 2005 elections and later in 2007, a constitutional provision placed the supervisory role under the control of a new body – Higher Election Commission – that was not entirely independent.
Before the restoration of full judicial supervision after the 2011 revolution, former president Hosni Mubarak revoked it in 2010.
Egypt’s next presidential election will be held in February 2018.