CAIRO – 25 February 2018: In a final declaration where he withdrew his candidacy for the 2018 Presidential Election, Mohamed Anwar Sadat issues a pre-ruling on the electoral process, predicting that there will not be an honest competition due to the general political climate.
In his statement, Sadat described the elections as a mere “play,” which he prefers not to enter as a puppet with no real chance of winning due to what he describes as an unfair climate.
His strong allegations are coupled with two issues caused by the tight timeframe imposed by the National Election Authority (NEA), which limits the duration of the electoral campaigns and limit the time for collecting recommendations from deputies and citizens.
Instead of running in the elections, Sadat has decided to be an observer of the elections through his civil society called “Sadat organization for civil development and protection.” Sadat explained that in light of the current atmosphere, there is a need for civil societies to protect and watch out for the political rights of Egyptians by observing the elections to ensure that they are fair and legitimate.
Sadat’s organization has previously applied to the NEA, requesting that they observe the elections, a request that has been approved by the NEA.
National Election Authority approval decision regarding Sadat organization for civil development and protection
Although his decision to withdraw from the electoral race and observe the elections are aligned, his call for boycotting the elections raises a number of questions.
Sadat's signature on the ‘Declaration of Former Candidates’ issued on January 28, 2018, called for signatories to the statement to stop the elections and stop the work of the National Election Authority. He called on Egyptians to boycott the elections and to not recognize its results.
Aside from the fact that international research has proven that boycotting elections does more harm than good to the democracy, development and economy of nations, Sadat’s decision to sign such a declaration is also strange given that he had been considering running in this election; and, now that he will not run in the elections, he plans to observe them.
Sadat’s positions seem somewhat unclear. His continuously changing stance has left many wondering what the former Member of Parliament is thinking or planning.
The third paradox of Sadat’s story came when he called on all voters, in his first statement on January 15, not to boycott. He called on them to cast their votes and exercise their right to build a better future for Egypt. However, he repeated in the pentagonal statement that he called on voters to boycott the electoral process, the exact same elections that he will take part in through his Civil Society.
What happened between January 15, when Sadat was asking citizens to vote and not waste their ballot, and January 28, when he signed the statement calling on citizens to boycott? We do not know.
Sadat has not issued a statement explaining his changing views or explained why he has changed his position some four or five times.
Sadat's statement inviting citizens to boycott the 2018 Presidential Election
The NEA announced the 2018 presidential election timeline on January 8. Potential candidates were allowed to submit their applications between January 20 and 29.
Voting will take place for three days starting March 26 domestically, and on March 16 for expats. The winning candidate will be announced on April 2.
The NEA announced January a declaration that includes instructions for civil societies to follow if approved to observe the election.
The full declaration is included below.
Exert of Decree No. 8 of 2018 of the National Election Authority
National Election Authority Decision No. 8 for 2018
Declaration of Principles and Dates for Egyptian, Foreign and International Civil Society Observers to observe the 2018 Egyptian Elections
Egyptian, foreign and international civil societies working in the fields of election observing, human rights, promotion of democracy as well as foreign election authorities and commissions are permitted to observe the 2018 Egyptian elections, as per the regulations stated in this Declaration, and upon obtaining a permit from the National Election Authority.
This permit shall not be considered a license or an authorization to undertake any other activities in Egypt. The permit expires when the electoral process ends.
“Observing the electoral process” refers to all acts of observing and observation of all procedures pertaining to candidates’ registration, election campaigns, voting, counting votes and declaration of election results.
Observers shall not interfere in the electoral process in any way. They shall not obstruct it, attempt to influence voters’ opinions, campaign for candidates or give or receive any grants, gratuities, gifts, aid or benefits of any kind from any candidate or from his supporters.
The following conditions must be observed by Egyptian civil society organizations applying for a permit:
• To have a clean reputation, and be known for their impartiality and integrity;
• To have previous experience in observing elections;
• Observers affiliated with them must be registered voters in the Voters Database.
• Interested organizations are to submit a request to the National Election Authority for them to be allowed to observe elections as per the specified dates in this declaration.
The following documents shall be attached to the request:
• Certified copies of organization registration documents;
• A recently-issued certificate from the competent ministry, stating that the organization is still registered and active, that it did not violate applicable laws and bylaws, and that it works in the fields of election observing, human rights and promotion of democracy;
• A concise summary about the organization, its legal status, work and previous experience in observing elections;
• A statement of the number of observers recommended by the organization and those desiring permits to observe elections in every governorate;
• Name of the organization’s representative before the National Election Authority.
The Authority may demand any other document deemed necessary.
The following conditions must be observed by foreign and international civil society organizations applying for a permit:
1. They shall have a good international reputation, and be known for their impartiality and integrity;
2. They must be working in the fields of observing elections, human rights and promotion of democracy;
3. They must have previous experience in observing elections;
Interested organizations shall submit a request to the National Election Authority, for them to be allowed to observe elections as per the specified dates in this declaration.
The following documents must be attached to the request:
1. A concise summary about the organization, its legal status, work and previous experience in observing elections;
2. List of countries where they observed elections during the three years preceding the voting day;
3. A statement of the number of observers recommended by the organization and wanting to issue permits to observe elections in every governorate;
4. Name of the organization’s representative before the National Election Authority.
The Authority may demand any other document deemed necessary.
Egyptian, foreign and international civil society organizations interested in observing presidential elections are to submit their requests from 09/01/2018 to 15/01/2018.
The National Election Authority shall regularly announce the names of organizations that fulfil the required conditions. They shall be provided with non-repeatable codes for the number of observers, who shall then use them to register on the Authority’s official website www.elections.eg. Observers shall register themselves on the date specified in this declaration.
The Authority shall review the observers’ forms submitted to the website, and may reject incomplete forms.
Observers are to register from 15/01/2018 to 19/01/2018. The Authority shall then issue permits to those accepted, and they shall be handed to the organization’s representative.
The Authority shall issue IDs to those observers with complete forms. The organization’s representative (or whoever they delegate) shall receive these IDs from the Authority’s headquarters. Observers themselves shall not visit the Authority’s headquarters for that purpose.
Observers shall gain access to Voting Committees, Vote Counting Committees, and General Committees by showing the IDs issued by the Authority.
Observers are not to remain in any committee room for more than thirty minutes. Heads of Sub-Committees and General Committees may, when necessary, shorten this period, and restrict the number of observers of committees in order not to interrupt their work.
In all cases, the instructions of Heads of Sub-Committees and General Committees are to be followed in this regard.
Organizations allowed to observe elections shall abide by all applicable laws, bylaws and decisions pertaining to the electoral process. They shall observe elections as per the principles and guidelines stipulated by the National Election Committee, and they shall heed accuracy, impartiality, and objectivity. They shall not use their work to acquire any political or partisan gains.
Authorized organizations shall promptly notify the National Election Authority about any observations they deem necessary for it to note.
The Authority shall investigate these observations, verify them and take the necessary procedures regarding them.
Organizations are not permitted to declare any election results or indicators before they are officially declared by the National Election Authority.
After the electoral process ends, authorized organizations shall submit a report to the Authority, stating their observations.
This report must be impartial, cite verifiable incidents, and provide a technical assessment of positive and negative aspects that their observation noted. The report shall objectively refer to official statements made by the National Election Authority in response to the organization’s observations.
The Authority may invite foreign heads or members of authorities or commissions specialized in elections, as well as heads of embassies or international and regional associations deemed fit to observe elections.
Without prejudice to penalties stated in Law No. 45 for 2014 on regulating the exercise of political rights, the Authority may revoke permits issued to any elections observer if they violate the regulations stipulated in this declaration. Permits issued to organizations may also be revoked, if they are responsible for said violation.
This declaration shall be published in the Official Gazette, and competent authorities shall implement it.