Parliament refrains from amending controversial article on presidential election

The People's Assembly on Monday refrained from making any amendments to the controversial Article 28 of the Constitutional Declaration, which protects the committee supervising the elections from challenges against its decisions.

The People’s Assembly passed amendments on Articles 30 and 38 of the presidential elections law. People’s Assembly Speaker Saad al-Katatny then referred the amended draft law to the Supreme Constitutional Court, which will issue its decision on the amendments within 15 days.

On its website, the state-run newspaper Al-Ahram said the People’s Assembly made minor amendments to the articles that “did not lead to any significant changes in their content.”

Article 30, as amended, provides that ballot counting and the announcement of results by elections commission subcommittees must take place in the presence of candidates’ delegates and civil society organization representatives. It also states that the results must be delivered to the head of the Presidential Elections Commission and that a copy of the results must be delivered to the candidates’ delegates.

Amended Article 38 provides that the Presidential Elections Commission is responsible for counting ballots after collecting the sorted ballots from the subcommittees. It also provides that the results must be announced in the presence of the candidates and their delegates and a sufficient number of civil society organizations and media outlets at the Presidential Elections Commission.

During the session, a heated debate erupted over Article 28 of the Constitutional Declaration. A number of MPs described amendments to the presidential elections law as useless as long as Article 28, which gives the Presidential Elections Commission immunity over its decisions, exists.

MP Abul Ezz al-Hariry demanded that the People’s Assembly present a request to the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces to amend the article so that it is not put up for referendum. The demand was opposed by Hussein Ibrahim, head of the Freedom and Justice Party’s parliamentary bloc.

Hariry responded, “If the presidential election is held under Article 28, then the election of Egypt’s next president will be void, as preventing the challenge of any administrative decision is a violation of human rights and because the article which revokes litigation is invalid.”

MP Saad Aboud agreed that the amendments to Articles 30 and 38 were inadequate in light of Article 28, which he described as a time bomb, adding that the “article will result in community divisions if it is not amended.”

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