on HRM’s Observations of Presidential Elections 2014
The High Presidential Election Commission (HPEC) decided to hold the second presidential elections since the 2011 revolution. The first elections resulted in the victory of Dr Mohamed Morsi, Egypt’s first democratically elected president, who stayed in power for one year, after which Marshal Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi lead a military coup and toppled and imprisoned him. In less than a year, the HPEC announced that presidential elections will take place and the candidates who will stand for the presidential elections were former Minister of Defence Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi and Nasserist politician Hamdeen Sabbahy.
The HPEC decided that the presidential elections abroad would take place between 15 May and 19 May 2014, and extended via a decision from the HPEC for a fifth day in Turkey. It also scheduled elections in Egypt to take place on 26 and 27 May 2014. Elections inside Egypt were also extended until 28 May 2014.
The elections took place in an atmosphere of on-going human rights abuses, heavy security measures taken against the protesters, and almost banning the right to protest. the government also targeted members of the Muslim Brotherhood, the largest opposition group in Egypt and with more than 41,000 political detainees, political and human rights activists locked up in prisons without a charge.
This report documents the period of preparation for presidential elections as well as the three days elections in Egypt. The report identifies the violations which affected the freedom and fairness of the electoral process and the atmosphere which preceded the elections.
The report details the violations observed over many governorates and polling stations nationwide.
Finally, the reports provides recommendations for the Egyptian government.
Electoral campaigns for the two candidates preceded the elections with notable difference in the budgetary and promotion for both parties, with Sisi’s promotions everywhere, including the media and Interior Ministry, and weak propaganda for Sabbahi. Sisi’s campaign’s budget was 25 million pounds, whereas Sabbahi’s campaign’s budget was only 400 thousand pounds.
Human Rights and Democracy
The atmosphere of
elections and pre-elections was full of human rights violations, terror and
fear. With more than 41,000 from the opposition detained in prisons, 3248
killed and 53 killed as a result of torture, while in detention centers.
Arbitrary arrest and detention continued to take place during the three days of
elections as well as other violations to the freedom of the press, as many
journalists observing the elections were arrested including two journalists
from the BBC.
Furthermore, the repressive demonstrations law which doesn’t allow protests to take place installed fear in the hearts of Egyptians opposing to the government and its current practices leading many citizens to boycott according to a survey conducted by HRM's researchers.
The Role of Religion
Religious institutions played a big role in influencing the wills of the people, emphasizing that voting is a religious duty on every national.
The Orthodox Church has also called for participation in the presidential elections. It strongly stressed on citizens not to respond to calls of boycotting elections. Furthermore, posters written on it “Jesus calls on you to support Marshall Abdelfattah Al-Sisi to eliminate the Muslim Brotherhood – to combat terrorism – to preserve the national unity.
201 Islamic scholars from different parts of the world have also called for boycotting the elections, which they described as “prohibited”.
Calls for Boycott
The Anti-Coup, Pro-Democracy Alliance, supporter of Morsi called for boycotting the presidential elections they considered illegitimate. The Alliance includes different parties from “Freedom and Justice Part, Building and Development Party, Al-Fadila, Al-Islam, Al-Watan, Labour Party, Al-Tawheed Al-Araby, Al-Raya Party, and the Salafist Front.
Other Movements and
parties such as 6 April Movement and Strong Egypt have also called for
boycotting the elections which they considered a farce.
Presidential Elections Abroad
took place for four days, 5 in some countries, between 15 May and 19 May 2014. Researchers
observed that voters were allowed to vote using their National ID number. While
this is considered a kind of facilitating elections, it also meant that voters
did not have to be registered in the Embassy, raising concerns that one voter
can cast his/her vote in many places. HRM's researchers who voted in the
elections abroad, affirmed that there were no means to check whether they have
previously voted or not.
Further facilitation for voters were provided for the first time, as consulates have turned into electoral stations in different parts of the world. Previously elections had to be done inside embassies only. Researchers have also observed group transport in shuttles to embassies and consulates.
Presidential Elections in Egypt
The elections in Egypt started on 26 May 2014, in an undemocratic and oppressive context. With more than 180 thousand military soldiers securing polling stations in 13,899 polling stations nationwide, voters’ turnout was very poor, with millions boycotting the elections.
Boycotting elections dominated this elections, with only 11.92% of the registered voting casting their votes over the three days elections, according to Elmarsad. In an attempt to encourage voters, the government decided to give a day off to employees in public sector, malls and shopping centres were also closed on Tuesday.
In addition to this and due to the very poor turnout, the HECP decided to extend the elections until Wednesday, however, electoral stations were almost empty. Both Sabbahy and Sisi objected to the extension of elections for a third day, however the HCCP rejected their objection.
HRM observed the following violations:
Researchers observed media campaigns for both electoral candidates in local and Satellite TV channels urging voters to go down and cast their votes.
An estimated number of 4000 people have been killed in different parts of Egypt either during protests or during the massacre of Rabia Al-Adaweya and Al-Nahda. 53 of them have been killed as a result of torture inside detention centres.
Those detained face ill-treatment, torture and rape in prisons, illegal detention centres as well as military prisons and state security camps.
Freedom of expression has also been killed, with the repressive demonstrations law, which only allows protests agreed on by the state security. In addition to this, journalists, political and human rights activists arrested and locked in prisons for indefinite periods.
campaigns and propaganda continued throughout the three days of elections,
despite the electoral silence according to the law.
Electoral vehicles with Sisi posters were monitored in the streets also calling on nationals to vote using loud speakers.
Some of the voters were monitored inside electoral stations wearing t-shirts with pictures of Sisi on it.
Some mosques threatened that voters who do not vote will have to pay a penalty of 500 LE.
TV presenters threatened nationals if they don’t vote, they will live in a dark era and terrorism will continue.
2- Spoiling the ballots was monitored and recorded in several stations in favour of Sisi.
3- Children were observed casting votes
4- Late opening of polling stations. Stations are supposed to open at 9am, however many stations opened late, until it was 11am.
5- Some electoral stations lacked curtains which provides privacy for voters.
6- Group voting was also monitored.
7- Directing voters to vote for Sisi.
8- Voters not using election’s ink.
9- Finding names of those who passed away in voter’s lists.
10- Sabbahi’s electoral observers were banned from entering the electoral stations. They were also kicked outside after objecting on violations they recorded.
11- Hundreds of people were arrested during the elections, either from the street or even inside electoral stations.
12- Spread of military soldiers in schools and even inside electoral stations observing the electoral process
13- Electoral bribes, to buy votes of the people.
14- Journalists were also prevented from following the electoral process. They were prevented from visiting the electoral stations or taking pictures for their news reports.
15- Journalists were arrested from polling stations. Journalists Syndicate submitted 10 complaints of violations against journalists.
16- Judges were absent in polling stations.
17- Judges were left alone to monitor the elections in some electoral stations.
18- Interior Ministry contribution to the electoral propaganda urging Egyptians to vote for Sisi and vowing to protect them, despite electoral silence period.
19- Judge prevented voters from casting their votes.
20- Voters not finding their names in Voters’ Lists.
21- Voters’ Lists not found in polling stations.
22- Media channels threatening voters to be brought before the prosecution if they boycotted elections
23- Raiding the headquarters for Sabbay’s campaign and arresting 14 members of his electoral campaign.
24- People hurled Molotov cocktails at the headquarters of el-Sisi's campaign Hosh Eissa.
Human rights violations practiced at the hands of the police and military forces continue to take place until the minute of writing this report.
In addition to this
hundreds of people are awaiting execution after mass sentences were issued by
Wikithawra, 41163 are currently detained in prisons without a charge, only for
having expressed their opinions. 36478 of them are charged with political
affiliation. 874 of them have been referred to a military trial, despite being
With all the above mentioned systematic violations, and with impunity and lack of accountability, it is unlikely that Egypt will live in a democratic atmosphere which respects human rights and protects peoples’ wills and freedoms.
· The Egyptian authorities should commit to democracy and transparency regarding the counting of votes.
· The Egyptian authorities must respect the wills of the people and grant them freedom of expression and self-determination.
· Human Rights Monitor recommends that the Egyptian government should end all kinds of human rights violations.
· Political prisoners and prisoners of conscience must be released immediately and unconditionally.
· The Egyptian authorities must abide by international treaties and conventions Egypt ratified, regarding human rights and respect of human rights especially the right to life.