Observers from 10 countries are scheduled to arrive next week ahead of Egypt’s constitutional referendum on behalf of Democracy International (DI), which will have the largest international mission to observe the poll scheduled for 14 and 15 January.
During a Thursday press briefing, representatives from DI said that it would deploy roughly 90 international observers to 23 of Egypt’s 27 governorates to document procedures of the referendum.
A core team from the US-based organisation has spent the last month in Cairo meeting with government officials and members of approximately two-dozen political parties as part of its preparations. The group added that it also met representatives from the Anti-Coup Alliance, a Muslim Brotherhood-backed coalition that has announced it will boycott the referendum that it deems illegitimate. The team also met with the Ministry of Interior to discuss procedures for securing the two-day nationwide poll.
DI’s observers are slated to arrive on Saturday and will be “extensively briefed” before being deployed to various areas of the country, where they will observe and document the electoral process as it takes place. In its press briefing, DI’s programme manager for the mission Daniel Murphy and director of programmes Jed Ober said that the observers come from a variety of backgrounds, including academics and former government officials with electoral experience in other countries. The organisation has observed elections in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and had received permission from Egypt’s Supreme Electoral Commission (SEC) to observe the parliamentary elections that were scheduled to take place under ousted president Mohamed Morsi. The constitutional referendum would represent the group’s first time observing in Egypt.
Democracy International receives funds from development agencies to carry out their observer missions and received a grant from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to operate in Egypt this month.
Following a debriefing with its observers on 17 January, DI will release a preliminary statement regarding its findings and in the following weeks is scheduled to issue a comprehensive report containing a full assessment of voting procedures.
“DI observers will witness all phases of the two referendum days, including opening procedures, voting, the closing of polling stations, the count, and throughout the tabulation and announcement of the results,” the group said.