The undersigned independent rights organizations condemn the National Elections Commission (NEC) statement issued this evening, April 2, 2018 on Egypt’s 2018 presidential election, declaring an “overwhelming” victory for Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who won another term with 97 percent of the vote. The commission had lost its political legitimacy by watching the electoral process as it transformed into a debacle beleaguered by the worst political and security thuggery ever witnessed in an Egyptian election since 1952. The pervasiveness of violence, repression, intimidation, and persecution – directed against potential candidates, the voters, and the media – render this week’s election illegitimate, and its results cannot be recognized.
Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s victory is the result of a retaliatory campaign, beginning in December 2017, directed against any candidate who constituted even the slightest potential threat to another term for the current president. All potential competitors were eliminated through imprisonment (house arrest or military prison) and at times via threats thereof, as well other forms of intimidation including violence. For anyone who dared to call for a boycott against the elections or to question its fairness: retaliation from the president’s security apparatus, along with a rabid media smear campaign, awaited them. At the same time, the prosecution opened investigations against opposition forces or – as the Public Prosecutor called them – “forces of evil.”
The NEC further illegitimated the elections by eliminating Egyptians’ right to freely express their opinions, including their right not to cast a vote, by threatening to fine them for abstaining. The NEC manipulated appeals to nationalism and religion, forcibly mobilizing voters in governmental and public agencies, and even sanctioning newspapers that reported low voter turnout and rampant vote-buying. Throughout all this, the NEC uttered nothing about its moral responsibility to protect presidential challengers from security thuggery, despite appeals from several candidates to do so. It intervened only to penalize media outlets that exposed even a fraction of the unprecedented political crimes committed in the name of propping up this sham of an election.
The media also faced severe repression and retaliation from the state. The Supreme Media Council punished those who translated and reported criticisms of the election from the foreign press. The State Information Service compelled foreign websites to remove stories. This all occurred in a context where the media has been de-facto nationalized by the security apparatus; where journalists are regularly jailed and foreign correspondents deported while the foreign media and press is demonized.
The vicious assault on human rights defenders continues unabated, with several facing imprisonment in connection with Case no. 173/2011. There has been an upsurge in the issuance and execution of death sentences together with the corruption of Egypt’s judicial system and the erosion of its independence; with convictions frequently obtained through the systematic use of torture and unjust trials in military courts.
In the wake of the election, those close to the president seem to be preparing a constitutional amendment that would allow unlimited presidential terms, thus sanctioning al-Sisi to rule indefinitely. This has heightened the fears of many rights organizations: By rendering a peaceful transfer of power impossible as well as repressing peaceful protest and dissent, the Egyptian government is making a violent transfer or contestation of power more likely – further fueling extremism and terrorism, and destabilizing the state. Recognizing the results of this illegitimate election is tantamount to condoning at least another four years of repression, political extremism, and terrorism.
- Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS)
- Nadeem Center for the Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence and Torture
- Andalus Institute for Tolerance and Anti-Violence Studies (AITAS)
- Egyptian Front for Human Rights
This post is also available in: العربية