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Egypt: Local Council elections

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February was a month of preparations for the election of the local councils due to be held in Egypt on 8 April 2008. Party elections were held for the opposition Democratic Front Party and for the key leadership posts of the Progressive National Unionist Grouping Party. Meanwhile, a judicial decision was made allowing the Egyptian Engineers Association [EEA] to hold its elections after a suspension of 14 years.

The strength of the local councils in these elections stems from the constitutional amendment which was held in 2005 and which required any independent candidate for the post of president to secure the support of 65 members of the People’s Assembly, 25 members of the Shura Council and 140 members of the local councils to become eligible for the presidential candidacy.

 

The local council elections:

Egyptian President Husni Mubarak announced that the local council elections in the governorates will be held on 8 April 2008. The elections were postponed in 2006 for two years after the Muslim Brotherhood [MB] Group won one fifth of the People’s Assembly seats. Preparations for the elections were made in February by the ruling National Democratic Party [NDP] and the opposition parties.

Preparations by the ruling National Democratic Party [NDP]:

Confusion and sharp arguments were exchanged at the preparatory election congresses of the National Democratic Party [NDP] held to choose the members due to run for the upcoming local elections. The confusion and sharp arguments were all the more evident in a number of governorates over the mistakes made in the lists of candidates and the disappearance of some of them.

 

Preparations made by the opposition parties:

The Muslim Brotherhood [MB] Group ended a silence which continued for some time by officially declaring that the MB Group will run for the local council elections. The local council elections have become all the more important after the recent constitutional amendments which granted these local councils the privilege of declaring by acclaim the candidate for the post of president of the republic. Four major opposition parties, namely, al-Wafd, the Nasserites, the Liberal Front, and the Progressive National Unionist Grouping Party, have decided to coordinate among one another to run for elections. Meanwhile, the leaders of the Progressive National Unionist Grouping Party, which is known for its hostility to the MB Group, has announced that it categorically rejected coordination with any “prohibited Group,” an evident reference to the MB Group.

 

Party elections:

Conflicts were renewed in the opposition Democratic Front Party after its founder and vice president Dr Usamah al-Ghazali went back on his decision not to run in the election for the post of president of the party. Meanwhile, Dr Ali al-Silmi, former Administrative Development Minister and former member of the Higher Commission of the Party, has detonated a bombshell when he went back on his resignation from the party and nominated himself to the post of president of the party “in compliance with the desire of the members of the party.” A total of 169 members of the sixth general Congress of the Progressive National Grouping Unionist Party nominated themselves to occupy 72 posts, including 40 members for the Central Committee, in addition to the president of the party, three of his vice presidents, the secretary general, four assistant secretaries general, and 10 members of the political Bureau, and 13 secretaries for the central secretariats.

 

Elections of the Egyptian Engineers Association

The Higher Administrative Court at the Egyptian Council of the State has issued a decision revoking the decision made by head of the judicial committee supervising the elections of the professional associations and the decision by the South Cairo Court to stop the holding of the elections for the EEA. In fact, the holding of the elections has stopped for the last 14 years. The Higher Administrative Court called on the chairman of the election committee to call for holding the elections. This meant the lifting of the judicial custodianship imposed on the EEA since 1994