The recent declaration of Egypt’s Supreme Constitutional Court (SCC) to allow police and military personnel to vote in elections has drawn controversy among legal and political experts in the country. The courts ruling on Saturday deemed a ban against security members from voting “unconstitutional,” citing the new constitution approved in December 2012. For decades, security members have been prevented from voting based on a law dating back to 1976. The ban was justified as a move to keep the military and the security apparatuses off politics. The SCC, however, said that such a ban violated the country’s new constitution that states that “all” citizens have the right to vote.
Tahani al-Gebali, the SCC’s former deputy chief, hailed the court’s decision as “historical”, stressing the new constitution gives the SCC the right to “monitor” draft laws before a final approval, including the law of exercising political rights and the election law.
“The court’s decision defends the rights and freedoms as it restores the right to vote to all citizens, regardless of their religion, skin color, gender or work nature,” Gebali told Xinhua.
She added that giving the security members the right to vote ” does not mean involving them in politics,” arguing that judges have always had the right to vote but they never made courts venues for political fights.
“The executive authority should set regulations for the voting process so that the police and military men can cast their ballots without being involved in any political disputes,” Gebali added.
Abdullah al-Moghazi, constitutional law professor at Cairo University, also agreed with the SCC decision, stressing that giving the police and military men the right to vote “is not a heresy.”