Egypt: Unfree and Unfair Elections
Elections continue in Egypt amidst a climate of tension.
The second phase of Egyptian elections was held yesterday, Saturday, November 26. There are three phases of the national legislative elections, each with two rounds. Up until Saturday, the Muslim Brotherhood had won 47 seats vs. 120 to the party in power. Today, Sunday, the Muslim Brotherhood says it has won an addition 28 seats, making a spectacular breakthrough. However, the results are not official and await confirmation. Nevertheless, if the figures are confirmed, the Islamist movement now has 75 seats in the 454-seat legislature making it the most serious opposition group in the country. Another 49 Muslim Brotherhood candidates are preparing to run in the third and final phase of the vote to take place at the beginning of December.
In the second phase, 121 seats were up for grabs in a very tense climate. The Muslim Brotherhood reported that early on Saturday 860 of its members and sympathizers had been rounded up beginning at dawn with arrests at domicile and continuing with arrests outside the polling booths. Thousands of anti-riot police were deployed in voting districts where the Brotherhood was running a candidate. According to witnesses, police closed down polling stations or strictly limited access.
In the area surrounding Alexandria, clashes broke aout between police and young Islamists at the end of voting, around 7 :00 pm. So this is the response of government to people who want to exercise their right to vote? asks Walid, a carpenter. In another quarter of Alexandria, Taher Abdel Fattah says he was prevented by a cordon of police from casting his vote.
A spokesman for the Interior Ministry [Lying liars extraordinaire--Nur] explained that police surrounding polling stations were there to ensure orderly voting. Reporters for AFP, Reuters, BBC and AP were harassed and had their equipment or documents confiscated.
Faced with the situation, judges in charge of monitoring the vote did not hesitate to rebel, accusing security forces from keeping voters from the polls, ostensibly to prevent Muslim Brotherhood candidates from winning. A communiqué from the Jurists’ Club (a professional organization) denounced the attitude of the police, manipulations of voter lists, interference and occasional curtailment of voting.
Abdel Mouezz Mohamed, spokesman for the Muslim Brotherhood, announced that 56 judges refused to participate in vote-counting because of flagrant fraud. Observers have reported on clashes in some polling stations between members of the ruling party, the National Democratic Party, and the Muslim Brotherhood.
Although the Muslim Brotherhood did not present sufficient candidates to rob the NDP of its majority, its electoral success has destabilized the government and the party in power. On Saturday, President Mubarak cancelled his attendance at the European-Mediterranean Summit in Barcelona on 27 and 28 November due to current events in the region.