Campaigning for the presidential elections ended on Sunday with 32 million voters expected to go to the polls on 7 September to vote in an election that incumbent Hosni Mubarak is widely expected to win.

The 10 candidates' access to the populace and to state-owned media facilities appeared to be generally fair, the Independent Egyptian Committee for Monitoring Elections (IECME) acknowledged in a preliminary report.

Unlawful exposure

"The general climate was neutral to a certain extent in terms of allowing the different candidates direct and indirect access to the masses," IECME coordinator Sherif Mansur told journalists.

The rights group said most
candidates abided by the law

But the NDP and its supporters violated a few rules for fair play laid down by the electoral commission and the law, claimed the report, compiled by 120 members who followed eight candidates in 12 cities and attended 50 rallies between 17 August and 4 September.

While most of the candidates seemed to have abided by campaign rules and the law, Mubarak received unfair and, in certain cases, unlawful exposure and access, the IECME said.

"The Interior Ministry did not issue permission to print and put up campaign posters in time for some candidates," said Mansur, citing one of the problems that opposition candidates faced in their attempts to reach the people.

Threats

He added that NDP supporters also removed a few posters and banners belonging to opposition candidates.

"Security authorities intervened on more than one occasion to change the time and venue of scheduled opposition rallies," Mansur said.

"Government agencies also actively rallied people in support of Mubarak"

Sherif Mansur,
IECME coordinator

Individuals also received threats for openly supporting opposition candidates, he added.

NDP supporters further ignored a law banning the use of
government facilities and public buildings for campaign purposes, according to the report.

These included "ministry buildings, police stations, government schools and hospitals, universities and train stations", Mansur
said. The NDP also used government vehicles and public buses to bring people to rallies, he added.

"Government agencies also actively rallied people in support of Mubarak," the IECME coordinator said.

Magistrates protest

Aljazeera's correspondent in Cairo has reported that 12 state council magistrates who were disqualified from supervising presidential elections have formally challenged the decision. 

A number of disqualified judges will contest the decision on their case on Tuesday morning, the sources from the judges syndicate said.