News24

Egypt vote fair, but military moves worry

2012-06-19 21:09

Cairo - Egypt's presidential vote appeared largely fair and competitive, but moves by the ruling military, including the retaking of legislative power, throw doubt on the process, US observers said on Tuesday.

In a statement, the Carter Centre run by former US president Jimmy Carter said "most aspects of the 16-17 June voting and counting process were free from major and systematic flaws that unfairly advantage either candidate."

But the observers "expressed grave concern about the broader political and constitutional context, which calls into question the meaning and purpose of the elections".

As the polls were closing on Sunday, after the first such vote since the ouster of former dictator Hosni Mubarak during last year's uprising, the military issued a constitutional declaration claiming sweeping powers.

The document gives the military legislative power after a court ordered the elected parliament dissolved, and grants it veto power over the text of the new permanent constitution.

Carter Centre observer Jason Carter, the former US president's grandson, called the constitutional amendment "troubling," saying it meant voters went to the polls uncertain about what powers the new president would even have.

"These very troubling aspects of the transition must be considered when assessing these elections," he told a news conference.

Jimmy Carter, who did not oversee the second round of the presidential vote, said in a statement that he was "deeply troubled by the undemocratic turn that Egypt's transition [took]".

Martial law

"The dissolution of the democratically-elected parliament and the return of elements of martial law generated uncertainty about the constitutional process before the election," he said.

The constitutional declaration "violates their [the military's] prior commitment to the Egyptian people to make a full transfer of power to an elected civilian government."

The delegation of 90 observers that watched the voting and counting process across most of Egypt said they saw various, mostly procedural violations, including a failure to fully confirm the identity of individual voters.

But they cautioned that restrictions on their work, which they have described as unprecedented, meant they were unable to give a complete account of the electoral process.

The Carter Centre, which monitors elections worldwide, has strongly criticised the restrictions imposed on them by Egyptian electoral officials.

And they said the centre did not envisage monitoring future elections in Egypt if the restrictions, which include time limits in polling stations and late accreditation, continued to apply.