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Justices, Lawyers and Human Rights Activists: Constitutional Referendum Process Fraud-Free

25 December 2012 21:39

Judicial bodies, human rights organizations and legal experts have confirmed the integrity of Egypt’s recent referendum in Egypt. Justice Ashraf Zahran, member of the Ministry of Justice operations room, confirmed that the referendum was successful and fair, conducted under full judicial supervision, and that all allegations of violations are merely attempts by certain parties to question a major celebration of democracy in which the whole nation positively participated.

Zahran, who is also a member of the Judges for Independence movement, said: “The Ministry of Justice’s central operations room followed the referendum process closely, moment by moment. We are certain nothing marred the integrity of the constitutional vote.

“The delay in announcing the final results is to allow the High Judicial Elections Commission (HJEC), the authority officially supervising the referendum process, to examine complaints and investigate their validity, so it announces the results with absolute accuracy, fully closing the door on all critics and skeptics.”

Separately, the ‘Observers to Protect the Revolution’ (OPR) coalition said that all violations and irregularities witnessed did not affect the integrity of the draft referendum process.
In a press conference on the second phase of the constitutional vote, the coalition said there had been a departure from all international standards, as “observers monitoring the referendum ignored the ‘Code of Conduct’ that stipulates neutrality and separation of partisan work – whether regulatory or administrative – from human rights activities.

“Many senior members and heads of human rights organizations and civil society organizations (NGOs) belong to or have organizational affiliation to political parties involved with the National Salvation Front.

The OPR affirmed that the process of monitoring the referendum was marred; but the process of the draft referendum itself as a whole was fair, transparent and credible.

“Using six thousand observers across all polling stations, the OPR monitored the referendum with complete neutrality in all provinces. Anyone who has evidence of wrongdoing must submit that evidence for investigation. Certainly, there was no systematic fraud or vote-rigging in the referendum on the constitution.”

Osama Al-Hilou, member of the OPR coalition, said that the majority of alleged violations were in fact misleading baseless hoaxes and false allegations.

“The media obtained information from political parties’ control rooms or simply from the National Salvation Front, not from neutral observers inside polling stations.

“Indeed, the referendum results confirm its integrity and reaffirm that irregularities did not affect the vote.”

Hassan Youssef, president of Shomoa (Candles) Association and member of the OPR coalition, said: “Violations and irregularities originated from the National Salvation Front and the opposition parties, which ignored all professional and human rights standards”.

Khalaf Bayoumi, director of the Shehab Center for Human Rights, said: “We are not with or against the referendum. We merely observe, with full neutrality. The vote process had a lot of negative and positive points. The ‘negatives’ did not affect the vote process in any significant way”.

Mohamed Al-Damati, head of the Freedoms Committee at the Bar Association, rejected allegations that the referendum was marred by fraud, saying: “All human rights organizations monitored the referendum. There were minor irregularities that did not amount to fraud”.

In a telephone call to Al-Jazeera Mubasher (Live)-Egypt satellite TV channel, Damati refuted claims that the Human Rights Council refused to issue licenses to some organizations seeking to monitor the referendum, saying: “I challenge anyone to prove that he or she had an observer license application rejected.”

“The Freedoms Committee, which has no political orientation or affiliation, monitored the constitutional referendum. Although it did witness certain minor violations and irregularities, it did not observe anything amounting to fraud that could possibly invalidate the referendum process.”

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