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NCW denies expelling EU observers from its symposium - Daily News Egypt

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NCW denies expelling EU observers from its symposium

National Council for Women accuses EU of trying to deny the legitimacy of the “30 June Revolution”, while the EU says NCW chairman was “misinformed” about its mission’s report

David Mario (C) Chief Observer at European Union Election Observation mission in Cairo looks on as Robert Goebbels (L), Head of European Parliament delegation speaks during a press conference in the Egyptian capital on May 29, 2014. The EU Observatory declared that the presidential elections in Egypt, which gave an overwhelming victory to former army chief Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, "respected the law" but lacked the presence of "certain parties" from the opposition.  (AFP PHOTO / MOHAMED EL-SHAHED)
David Mario (C) Chief Observer at European Union Election Observation mission in Cairo looks on as Robert Goebbels (L), Head of European Parliament delegation speaks during a press conference in the Egyptian capital on May 29, 2014.

The state-affiliated National Council for Women (NCW) denied on Sunday the expulsion of members of the European Union Electoral Observer Mission (EUEOM) from its symposium the day before.

Three members of the EUEOM, stationed in Egypt to observe last week’s presidential elections, exited the symposium on women’s roles during the elections after NCW Chairman Mervat Al-Tallawi criticised the preliminary report the mission released on the presidential elections.

Rasha Serry, Press and Information Officer of the EU delegation to Egypt, suggested in a press release on Monday that Al-Tallawi was “somewhat misinformed” about the EUEOM report, adding that the said report “should be read in its entirety”.

“The EUEOM, which is an independent body, has in fact made a thoroughly professional assessment of the vote,” Serry’s statement read.

In a statement released in English, the NCW said that Al-Tallawi allowed the EUEOM members to attend the symposium, upon their request. The state-affiliated council accused the EU mission of “falling out of its mandate”.

The EUEOM’s report on the elections, released Thursday, criticised the environment in which the elections were held, described by the mission’s Chief Observer Mario David as “falling short of constitutional principles”.

The NCW said the EUEOM report “runs contrary to the reality on the ground”, denying information in the report which concerns limiting the activities of civil society organisations in Egypt. In its report, the EUEOM stated that civil society organisations are “often restricted or harassed”.

The Egyptian Centre for Economic and Social Rights (ECESR) has been raided by security forces twice in less than a year. Security forces raided the centre’s Cairo office last December, arresting a number of employees there. The centre’s Alexandria office was also raided in May following a press conference the ECESR organised in solidarity with imprisoned lawyer and activist Mahienour El-Massry.

The NCW concluded that the EUEOM report’s findings “mean that [the EU is] trying to deny the legitimacy of the 30 June Revolution and deny the will of the people, which was reflected in the recently-conducted free, fair and transparent elections”.

“This position makes the EUEOM lack credibility and renders their presence in the region irrelevant,” the statement read.

Serry stressed in her statement that the EU is “a strong supporter” of the state-affiliated women’s council and that they fund the NCW’s “valuable” work.

A video which circulated online shows members of the EUEOM leaving the symposium as speakers in the symposium criticise the mission’s report on the elections.  Politics university professor Mona Makram Ebeid is heard in the video saying that the EUEOM has “failed” to do the mission it was sent to do: that is, observe the presidential elections.

In response to the incident, the EUEOM told the Daily News Egypt that it “takes note of all statements but has no further comments at this stage”.

The official results of last week’s presidential elections are scheduled to be announced on Tuesday evening. Preliminary results suggest former Defence Minister Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi has claimed a landslide victory against Nasserist opponent Hamdeen Sabahy, reaping over 90% of the votes.

The Egyptian authorities invited the European Union to observe the presidential elections.

The Supreme Electoral Commission, tasked with overseeing the electoral process, approved 79 domestic and 6 international organisations to come to Egypt and observe the two-man run off for Egypt’s sixth president.

International observers include: EUEOM, the Arab League, the African Union Election Observation Mission and Democracy International.

Additional reporting by Joel Gulhane

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