A judge in charge of the investigation of electoral fraud in the 2012 presidential elections has placed a gag order on the case, the state-owned newspaper Al-Ahram reported Monday. The case could deal a significant political victory for supporters of the ouster of former President Mohamed Morsi in July.
The order was placed by the Cairo Court of Appeals “in order to preserve the integrity and confidentiality of the investigation,” the paper reported.
Ahmed Shafiq, former President Hosni Mubarak’s last prime minister and a former Air Force general and aviation minister, filed several complaints alleging electoral fraud during the elections, in which he was narrowly defeated by Mohamed Morsi in a runoff.
One of the allegations the former aviation minister made was that Coptic Christians were prevented from voting in several constituencies.
According to Article 28 of the Constitutional Declaration of 2011, decisions by the Presidential Election Committee, which declared Morsi the winner on June 24, 2012, are not challengeable by law. However, later constitutional declarations, issued by Morsi and interim President Adly Mansour rendered that declaration void.
Part of the investigation includes looking over ballot papers to see if any there is any evidence of tampering.
According to Gamal Eid, the director of the Arab Network for Human Rights Information, a verdict of electoral fraud would not in itself prescribe new elections. The court would simply be ruling that the election results were fraudulent without recommending further action.
Morsi’s opponents made the argument that he did not have electoral legitimacy due to these violations in increasing frequency in the latter days of his presidency. Such a verdict would add to the institutional and legal backing for Morsi’s ouster.
The 2012 election was observed by judges, as well as a limited foreign observer mission by the Carter Center. The Carter Center said it was not able to reach a conclusion about the process as a whole.
Supporters of Morsi started a large sit-in ahead of the elections commission’s announcement of the winner. Judges for Egypt, a group of judges informally affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, declared that their observations had placed Morsi as the winner before an official announcement had been made.
Immediately following the announcement that Morsi was elected president, Shafiq traveled to Dubai and has remained there since. He has however maintained a media presence calling into to talk shows and giving statements to newspapers with greater frequency since Morsi was ousted.