Cairo, Egypt – IRI today announced its delegation which will, at the invitation of the Egyptian government, observe the third phase of Egypt’s people’s assembly elections on January 3 and 4, 2012. IRI also observed the first phase of Egypt’s elections held on November 28-29, 2011 and second phase held on December 14 and 15, 2011.
IRI’s delegation will be led by Constance Berry Newman, former Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs and former U.S. Agency for International Development Assistant Administrator for Africa; and Olin Wethington, founder and Chairman of Wethington International LLC and former Special Envoy on China. Newman and Wethington serve on IRI’s Board of Directors.
Other delegates are:
- Cole Bockenfeld, Director of Advocacy at the Project on Middle East Democracy;
- Charles Greenleaf, founding President of the Eurasia Foundation and former U.S. Agency for International Development Assistant Administrator for Asia and the Near East;
- Rachael Leman, Policy Director for the U.S. House of Representatives Rules Committee;
- Matthew Rimkunas, Legislative Director for U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham;
- Brad Smith, Chief of Staff to U.S. Congressman David Dreier; and
- Rob Varsalone, founder of Maven Public Affairs LLC and former Resident Country Director in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq for IRI.
IRI staff will also serve as observers and assist in the mission. IRI staff will be led by Lorne W. Craner, President of IRI; Judy Van Rest, Executive Vice President of IRI; Scott Mastic, IRI’s Regional Director for Middle East and North Africa programs; and Sam LaHood, IRI’s Resident Country Director in Egypt.
In the first and second phases of the elections, IRI’s mission noted that while there remained administrative and procedural challenges, electoral officials and authorities were intent to execute their responsibilities in accordance with electoral laws and official regulations. Furthermore, IRI also noted that building on lessons learned from the first phase of voting the Higher Electoral Commission (HEC) and other government bodies continued to improve the overall administration of the electoral process in phase two.
IRI delegates in the third phase will pay particular attention to the following areas noted in the first two rounds of voting:
- The transport of ballots and vote tabulation at central counting centers continues to be the most challenging aspect of the electoral process thus far. The burden and complexity of transporting hundreds of ballot boxes to a single location for counting creates opportunity for electoral irregularities. Steps should be taken to ensure the sorting of ballots and counting of votes is done in a more orderly fashion as it will lend increased transparency to the elections process overall.
- Delays in the opening of polling stations remained a notable occurrence but were somewhat less pronounced in the second phase. IRI believes further improvements in these areas would result in a greater percentage of polling stations opening on time during the third phase of voting.
- There was notable improvement during the second phase to more effectively enforce the no campaign rule outside and inside polling stations. The vicinities outside most polling centers, however, were still covered in campaign banners and posters, and campaign literature could be seen strewn on the ground in the immediate area of most polling centers.
- Also present during the second phase was the continued use of computer kiosks by some political parties to help voters identify their polling station. The HEC and other electoral authorities are encouraged to take necessary measures to prevent this activity from occurring in violation of electoral rules during the third phase.
Prior to deploying to the governorates voting in the third phase, delegates will be briefed on the political environment in Egypt, Egyptian election law, and the rights and responsibilities of international observers. During the two days of voting, delegates will observe polling stations and identify and evaluate strengths and weaknesses in Egypt’s election system, including campaign regulations, the balloting process, vote tabulation and reporting.
Since 1983, IRI has monitored more than 135 elections in more than 45 countries.Top