World Bulletin/News Desk
A recent decision by the interim presidency to immunize Egypt's official electoral commission from judicial oversight ahead of much-anticipated presidential polls has irked several would-be presidential candidates.
"Nowhere in the world would legal custom allow judicial immunity from an executive decree," said Maasoum Marzouk, presidential campaign spokesman for leftist politician Hamdeen Sabbahi, told Anadolu Agency.
"It's a deviation from the path of the June 30 revolution," Marzouk said, referring to last year's mass protests which allowed the army to oust Mohamed Morsi, Egypt's first freely elected president, who came to power under an elections law passed in 2012.
"It's a dangerous path that will lead to the same problems that the Supreme Military Council [which governed Egypt from early 2011 to mid-2012] put us through previously," he added.
A new elections law, signed by interim President Adly Mansour on Saturday, steels all decisions issued by Egypt's election commission against possible appeal – which had been a major source of criticism in the 2012 law, drafted by the then-ruling Supreme Military Council.
Marzouk said campaign organizers would deliberate with "supporters and partners" to forge a unified position vis-à-vis the immunity article with a view to pursuing all "peaceful means" of opposing it.
While he asserted that "all options are open," Marzouk stressed it would be premature to say whether Sabbahi – who came in third in 2012 polls that brought Morsi to power – would withdraw from the race in protest.
Even before the law's passage, the immunity clause had drawn criticism from many legal experts who warned that it violated Article 97 of Egypt's newly-approved constitution, which prohibits judicial immunity for administrative decrees.
However, Ali Awad, the president's advisor for constitutional affairs, said the law had followed consultations with Egypt's Supreme Constitutional Court, State Council and cabinet, along with several political forces.
Campaigners for former army chief-of-staff and presidential hopeful Sami Anan, meanwhile, announced plans to hold "intensive" meetings to discuss the new law before announcing their stance.
"We can't judge the law before studying it first," campaign spokesman Eman Ahmed told AA. "We're still studying its contents with a focus on the controversial aspects."
Meanwhile, a campaign spokesman for rights lawyer Khaled Ali said that the latter was rethinking his decision to contest elections.
"Ali is still weighing his options in light of the new law to determine whether he would be willing to compete by its rules," Wael Ali told AA.
Speaking on Twitter, Khaled Ali – who ran in the 2012 polls, in which he garnered a negligible number of votes – described the new elections law as a "political and legal scandal."
The new law also stipulates that anyone who has been indicted for a criminal offense cannot contest the presidency.
It also requires would-be candidates to be at least 40 years old, to be university graduates and to have two Egyptian parents.
The law also makes it necessary for candidates to obtain 25,000 citizens' signatures from 15 different Egyptian provinces.
The new legislation does not, however, provide any dates for the next presidential poll.
Last Mod: 10 Mart 2014, 13:25