FILE - Lasheen Ibrahim, head of the National Elections Authority-  Mohamed Abd El Ghany/REUTERS FILE - Lasheen Ibrahim, head of the National Elections Authority- Mohamed Abd El Ghany/REUTERS

Exclusive: NEA reveals early preparations for referendum on constitutional amendments

Fri, Mar. 29, 2019
CAIRO - 29 March 2019: In the coming days, Egyptians will likely prepare for a public referendum where they would have to vote in favor of or against some constitutional amendments, including extending the presidential term.

If amendments are approved, heads of the judicial bodies would be appointed by the president.

The process has been implemented on four stages; first, fifth the number of parliament members has requested amending some of the articles of the current constitution; second, a total of 485 out 569 of lawmakers, representing over two thirds of the MPs approved the amendments.

The third stage, currently taking place, is discussing each of the newly proposed amendments. If a final approval was issued by the Parliament, the National Elections Authority will have to hold a public referendum in 30 days.

Egypt Today spoke with Lasheen Ibrahim, head of the NEA, and Mahmoud Helmy el-Sherif, deputy head and spokesman of the NEA, around the strategy of the elections authority in case the amendments are approved.

The NEA, within 30 days since it receives the letter of the Parliament, will be committed to hold a referendum, Ibrahim said, hoping that the referendum will be held in a democratic, suitable atmosphere.

We have been preparing for it even before the Parliament finishes discussing the referendum, and we are racing against time in order for the referendum to be held before Ramadan.

The law stipulates that the NEA shall conduct any electoral process, whether presidential, parliamentary elections or referenda, in a single day or several; the NEA has the choice to conduct it on two, three or four days. Currently, we have a database of 62 million voters. It is therefore possible for the referendum to be held within at least 3 days.

It is necessary for Egyptians to gather before the committees, but sure what matters more is the number of votes cast. We do not care about the reports of hostile media platforms.

We do not have anything to hide. Results will be announced before the Egyptian people and the whole world. The NEA's approach is based on integrity and transparency. The Board of Directors of the NEA consists of 10 judges whose work is based on impartiality and integrity.

The law of the NEA entrusted the Board of Directors of the authority with preparing the database of voters,refining and updating it continuously. We have a permanent committee that refines the lists of voters, to delete the deceased or those legally deprived of political rights, including those who have been handed a final sentence. The committee is also assigned with adding those who turned 18.

The database is the spirit of elections and referenda. The Ministry of Health has used the voter database for the presidential elections, and has signed a cooperation protocol to help the ministry in its mission to treat Hepatitis C patients.

The NEA is still counting those who failed to cast their votes in the past presidential elections held in March 2018,to send them to the Public Prosecution where legal measures can be taken against them.Once their names are collected, the NEA will send a list to the Public Prosecution.

The ballot papers will include the articles to be amended.

There are procedures that would be taken in order to make more than one watermark in each of the ballot papers to prevent them from being falsified.

There are two main tasks of the NEA in this regard; first, training all those involved in the electoral process by giving them training courses in judicial studies centers in coordination with the Ministry of Justice.

Second, educating the voters on the short and long terms. On the short term, members of the NEA will head to universities, the National Council for Women and others, and will explain the electoral process to citizens. While on the long term, a protocol of cooperation will be signed with the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Higher Education to specialize a subject to educate students about the participation in the national entitlements.

Moreover, Mahmoud Helmy el-Sherif said that the NEA is currently preparing the election centers including schools and other entities, and is trying to inform citizens of the new names of schools that were renamed after the martyrs. We have more than 14,000 subcommittees and 368 public committees.

We have a database of voters, where the number of women is close to half.Women played a very big role in the presidential elections, so we must raise awareness and urge them to participate in the planned referendum.

What to know about Egypt's constitutional amendment process

CAIRO - 6 February 2019: The process to amend the constitution involves the House of Representatives, and the people who is expected to participate ...



Proposed Amendments to the Constitution

The statement released by the House of Representatives indicated the main principles the drafted amendments aim to accomplish and classified them into seven sections.

Inclusive Political Representation

Support the representation of women in parliamentary chambers.

Support the representation of farmers and blue-collar labor in parliamentary chambers.

Support the representation of youths, Christians, expats, and the disabled in parliamentary chambers.

Political System Reform

The possibility to appoint one or more vice-presidents.

Amendment of the presidential term to become six instead of four years, and the formulation of the required transitional rules.

The Judicial Authority

The articulation of a unified mechanism to appoint the chairpersons of judicial institutions, the Public Prosecutor and the chief of the Supreme Constitutional Court.

The establishment of a supreme council for judicial joint affairs.

The Mission of the Armed Forces

The redefinition and solidification of the role of the Armed Forces.

The appointment of the defense minister must be first approved by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF).

Legal protection of key state institutions, and public facilities.

Electoral System Reform

The omission of the sentence on equivalent representation of voters as it incurred a conflict in practice, while abiding by the ruling of the Supreme Constitutional Court on the matter.

Foundation of the Senate

The introduction of articles that regulate the minimum number of members, candidacy requirements, the Senate's mission, and the ban of joint membership in both chambers of the parliament.

Press and Media Management

The omission of articles 212 and 213 on the National Media Authority and the National Press Authority.


Additional reporting by Amr Kandil, Noha Al-Tawil
 
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