Mubarak disregards opposition demands for judicial oversight of elections

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has ignored demands by the political opposition for free and fair elections by issuing a law on political rights that does not include a single reference to the need for judicial oversight of elections.

The Egyptian opposition had called for certain amendments to the law that would allow citizens to vote with their national identification cards instead of with special voting cards; judges to supervise all central and branch polling stations; and Egyptian expatriates–of which there are an estimated six million in total–to cast their votes from abroad.

The only amendments that Mubarak introduced to the law on Tuesday pertained to the 64-seat quota for female parliamentarians, which will raise the total number of seats in parliament from 454 to 518.

Registered opposition parties had conditioned their participation in parliamentary elections, slated for 29 November, on the amendment of certain articles of the political rights law, which regulates Egypt's political process.

A constitutional amendment in 2007 served to erode judicial oversight of elections by reducing the number of polling stations countrywide from more than 50,000 branch stations to only 254 central stations.

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