Egypt judges seek election control

A group of about 1000 Egyptian judges has demanded full control over the coming presidential elections, an unprecedented step by the country's judiciary, one of the judges said.

    President Mubarak ordered constitutional amendments

    After a three-hour meeting in the port city of Alexandria on Friday, the judges demanded reforms to the judiciary authority laws and articles related to their roles in supervising elections, Judge Ahmad Makki said.

     

    "We want to take control over the elections from the beginning to the end. From organising the candidates' tables to guaranteeing equality and justice to all candidates until counting the ballots and announcing the results," Makki said.

     

    Boycott

     

    Some of the participants, especially the younger judges, vowed to boycott the electoral process if their demands were not met, he added.

     

    Although the judiciary is key in guaranteeing the credibility of the elections, it plays a limited supervisory role and endures interference from executive officials.

     

    "Judges should never work under the supervision of the Interior Minister"

    Judge Yahya al-Rifai,
    former head of the Egyptian Judges Club

    Judge Yahya al-Rifai, former head of the Egyptian Judges Club, said there were faults in the election law and the election process.

     

    "The law is full of gaps," he told Aljazeera on Saturday. "It states that the interior minister supervises the elections, but judges should never work under the supervision of the interior minister.  

     

    "A committee should be formed of judges, not public figures, to oversee the elections."

     

    Violations

     

    Human rights groups report violations by ruling party members, with the help of police on election day, despite the presence of judges.

     

    If their demands are not met, Makki said, the General Association of Egypt's Judges will convene on 13 May to decide the next step.

     

    Al-Rifai said the latest constitutional amendment of election law was not enough. He said it should also state the durations of presidency and nomination.

     

    The judges' move comes after President Husni Mubarak in February ordered parliament to amend the constitution to allow more than one candidate to run in presidential elections for the first time.

     

    Since then, political parties, university students and many other segments of Egyptian society have expressed demands for further reforms.

    SOURCE: Aljazeera + Agencies


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