Democracy International (DI) has strongly criticised the decision to extend voting in Egypt’s presidential election to a third day, describing it as “the latest in a series of unusual steps that have seriously harmed the credibility of the process.”
The US-based organisation said on Wednesday that the decision by the Presidential Election Committee (PEC) to extend the voting period “raises more questions about the independence of the election commission, the impartiality of the government, and the integrity of Egypt’s electoral process.”
DI is one of six international observer missions that were approved by the Supreme Electoral Committee to observe Egypt’s second presidential election in as many years. Others include the European Union, the African Union and the Arab League.
President of DI Eric Bjornlund said in the statement: “Last-minute decisions about important election procedures, such a decision to extend polling by an additional day, should be made only in extraordinary circumstances.”
The PEC chose to extend the voting on Tuesday night amid perceived low voter turnout in the first two days of polling. The committee cited the latest “heat wave” to hit the country and complaints received from citizens as reasons for the extension.
Egyptians have been given the extra day to chose between former defence minister Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi and Nasserist Hamdeen Sabahy as their next president. Al-Sisi has been strongly tipped to emerge as the victor.
DI said that it would continue to observe the election through its accredited medium-term observe but said that its short-term observers would travel back to Cairo on Wednesday as per the organisations original programme.
In total, DI has 86 accredited observers inside Egypt who “reported no impediments to voting during the first two days of balloting that would necessitate an additional day.”
The organisation confirmed it “plans to issue a preliminary statement on its observations on Thursday.”