The head of the panel that drafted Egypt’s 2014 constitution, possibly the most progressive in the country’s history, denounced calls to amend the charter on Saturday, saying in a carefully-worded statement that parliament should focus instead on implementing it. Amr Moussa, a respected statesman and a former foreign minister and Arab league chief, was apparently responding to calls by some lawmakers to extend by two years the four-year term the president serves in office. President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi has less than one year left in his first term. He has yet to say whether he is running for a second term, but he is widely expected to do so in June 2018. The constitution stipulates the president can only serve two terms. The relevant clause cannot be amended unless the change “brings more guarantees,” according to the constitution. Moreover, any amendment must be approved in a nationwide referendum before it comes into force.
Middle East and North Africa
Articles about voting issues in the Middle East and North Africa.
Tunisia: In post-revolution Tunisia democracy endangered by low voter registration | Middle East Monitor
In Tunis, municipal elections are on the horizon. However, democracy is at risk. Registration to vote is very weak and there is a clear reluctance among the many Tunisian political parties to participate. The municipal and regional elections are the democratic exercise in post-revolution Tunisia since the last elections took place in 2010. And they are especially significant because these councils used to be appointed by the Head of State. … But according to Nabil Bafoun, a member of the Independent High Electoral Commission, the process suffers from the absence of political parties and a lack of seriousness regarding the involvement of civil society in the process of voter registration. In press statements, Bafoun has said that the number of registered voters in this election has so far reached 167,770 voters, including 30,252 updates for registrants who changed their residence addresses.
Pakistan: Electoral reforms committee approves ‘Election Bill 2017’ with dissenting notes | Daily Pakistan
The parliamentary committee on electoral reforms finalised ‘The Election Bill, 2017’ on Wednesday with dissenting notes by five political parties. Talking to newsmen after the approval Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, who is the chairperson of the committee expressed that the bill will formally be signed on July 21 (Friday) by the committee for its onward submission to parliament for approval. “Nine major election laws have been merged in The Election Bill, 2017 as per best international practices, with the input of all political parties having representation in parliament,” Dar said.
Pakistan: PTI insists general elections be held under a reconstituted Election Commission | Pakistan Today
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has staged a walk-out of the parliamentary committee on electoral reform in protest against the committee for not considering the party’s proposals for meaningful electoral reforms, placed before the subcommittee in April 2017. The PTI lawmakers Dr Arif Alvi, Shafqat Mehmood and Dr Shireen Mazari in the media talks lashed out at the government for what they dubbed ‘the non-seriousness’ to implement the much-need electoral reforms. They said that the ECP has lost its credibility in holding those responsible for the wrongdoings pointed out in the SC report, on PTI rigging petition on the 2013 election.
Israel: To avoid cyber attacks, Israel urged to manually count election results | Middle East Monitor
Israel’s National Cyber Authority is expected to recommend the manual counting of votes in future elections in order to prevent cyber attacks “following recent attempts to meddle with elections in the West,” the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported yesterday. Formed 18 months ago, the authority is working on a “defence plan” against possible meddling in Israeli elections through cyber attacks similar to what recently took place in the United States, France and Ukraine. The plan will recommend that votes continue to be counted manually in Israel, as they always have, even if this is an “outdated method”.
Turkey’s main opposition leader launched a European court appeal on Tuesday over an April vote that granted President Tayyip Erdogan sweeping powers, stepping up his challenge to the government as he led a 425 km (265 mile) protest march. Erdogan accuses the protesters, marching from Ankara to Istanbul, of “acting together with terrorist groups”, referring to Kurdish militants and followers of a U.S.-based cleric who Ankara says was behind last year’s coup. Kemal Kilicdaroglu, head of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), hit back on Tuesday, defending his “justice march” and accusing the government of creating a one-party state in the wake of the failed putsch on July 15.
On Friday, June 16th, Lebanon quietly ended one of the longest stretches of government paralysis in post-Second World War history. The parliament met to ratify a new electoral law that will govern national elections next year, nearly a decade after the last parliamentary polls were held. The law’s proponents claim that it will improve representation for the many sects that compose the country’s religiously diverse population. They say it also addresses demands by civil-society groups who have railed against the propensity of the political élite to pass power down through the generations and keep reformists at bay. In Beirut, there is both cynicism and optimism about what the new law might deliver. Mostly, though, one senses an uncertainty about the future—a familiar enough feeling in a country that endured a brutal, fifteen-year civil war, but unfamiliar in other ways. There is a genuine wondering-aloud as to whether a new chapter in Lebanon’s history might be about to begin, and some hope that a political system built on the principle of fostering coexistence might be insulated from a region wracked by sectarianism.
Amid the backdrop of a fight against the Islamic State, the Kurdistan region of Iraq plans to hold an important vote to determine its direction on statehood. Earlier this month, Kurdistan Regional Government President Masoud Barzani announced that a long-awaited referendum on independence would be held Sept. 25, 2017. Importantly, the vote will not only take place within the borders of the Kurdistan region, but also within disputed territories that are now under de facto Kurdish control since their liberation from the Islamic State. Barzani has called for a referendum many times before, but this time an official date has been set and the vote will probably take place. An informal referendum passed overwhelmingly in the Kurdistan region in January 2005, and there is good reason to believe a positive result will be replicated in this year’s official process.
The Iraqi Kurdish Regional Government’s (KRG) President Masoud Barzani announced on June 7 that a referendum will be held in Iraqi Kurdistan on Sept. 25 this year. It will be a non-binding referendum — meaning that the proclamation of independence will be left to the discretion of the Kurdish leaders even if the outcome of the referendum is in favor of independence. An independent Kurdistan has always been an aspiration of many Kurds, be they in Iraq, Iran, Turkey or Syria. Barzani played his cards as cautiously as possible by not going too fast. This caution may be due to several reasons: The subsidies that he was receiving from Baghdad, being worried of solation in the international arena, advantages of holding various offices in Baghdad, etc. He kept saying that Kurds have their right to independence and that they will use it when the time comes.
A new electoral law is expected to be ratified by Lebanon’s parliament on Friday, paving the way for the first parliamentary elections in eight years. On Wednesday, ministers announced that Lebanon will be holding the long-delayed legislative elections in May 2018 after the country’s cabinet approved a new electoral law, staving off a fresh political crisis that threatened to leave the country without a parliament. The move will also end a stalemate that saw the country’s parliament extend its tenure twice.