Monday, November 29, 2010

Egyptian opposition wins only handful of seats in fraudulent, violent election

Early results of Egypt's Sunday parliamentary elections on Monday showed a landslide victory for the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) and only 9 seats for the (liberal) Wafd, 7 for the Muslim Brotherhood, 1 for the lftist Tagammu and 1 for the Social Justice Party. This was in line with the predictions by experts, that the opposition would only win a handful of seats in the Egypt’s 508-seat parliament. The elections were characterized by widespread vote rigging, representatives of parties that in many places were barred from entering the polling stations, and violence. Definite results are not expected before Tuesday evening.
The Moslem Brotherhood, which held 20 percent of the seats in the outgoing legislature (88 seats) was aiming to win 30 percent of the seats in the upcoming chamber, despite having been subjected to a fierce government crackdown on candidates and their supporters since the group officially announced its participation in the 2010 PA elections. It seems, however, that the MB, whose candidates run as independnets, will win much less than that.
“Violence and thuggery are the most striking features of this year’s elections,” said Tarek  Zaghloul, spokesperson for the Egyptian Coalition for Monitoring Elections. At midday, Hussein Salama Zeri, a 30-year-old campaigner for an NDP candidate in North Sinai was shot in the head during clashes with supporters of a rival NDP candidate. Earlier in the day, another death was reported in the low-income Matariya district in northern Cairo. The son of Sayyed Abu Amr, an independent candidate for the Matariya/Ain Shams workers’ seat, was stabbed last night while hanging up leaflets in support of his father’s campaign. He later succumbed to his injuries.
Human rights groups reported Sunday the deaths of eight people during the People's Assembly (PA) elections, as well as 45 clashes and 180 total arrests by security forces. The government lateron conced the death of five people. According to the Nadim Center for the Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence, the eight deaths occurred in Omraneya (Giza), Al-Raml (Alexandria), Farkous, Wadi Notroun, Menouf, and Al-Arish over stabbings and health emergencies.Clashes were reported in Suez, Hamoul, Beni Suef, Sohag, Abdeen, and involved the use of knives between thugs and candidates’ supporters, while Qena saw gun shootouts occur between supporters of rival candidates. In Al-Raml in Alexandria independent, Moslem Brotherhood affiliated candidate Subhi Saleh was nearly strangled by a mob of supporter of the NDP-candidate Abdelsalam Al-Mahgoub, Human Right Watch reported. HRW also reported that scores of supporters of opposition candidates were wounded in fights with government supporters. The violence was less severe, however, than the elections of 2005, when there were 14 deaths on election day.
Port Said witnessed 100 arrests, the largest number out of all of Egypt's constituencies. An overwhelming majority of those detained were allegedly supporters of Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated independent candidate Akram Al-Shaer.
Voting officially kicked off on Sunday at 7 AM with nearly 5000 candidates competing over 508 parliamentary seats in 254 electoral districts. In a number of Cairo districts, polling stations opened at least 45 minutes late, while many others were closed periodically during the day for unknown reasons. The polling station at Dokki’s Hoda Shaarawy School, in particular, was forcibly closed.
Official voter turnout figures will be made available on Tuesday, but election monitors suggest that only 10 percent of Egypt’s 41 million registered voters actually cast ballots today. “We estimate that the national voter turnout rate won’t exceed 10 percent at most,” said Fawzy.
In 2005, 25 percent of registered Egyptian voters participated in parliamentary elections. Al-Masry Al-Youm reporters in Cairo, Qena, Alexandria, Gharbiya and Northern Sinai confirmed that voter turnout had been “modest.”
Moharam’s polling station was only one of several voting spots to be closed to voters during the day and surrounded by thugs.A similar scenario occurred at Al-Haram district, where Muslim Brotherhood campaigners alleged that NDP-backed thugs had been brought to a local polling station to prevent opposition voters from casting ballots.
Speaking from behind her niqab, brotherhood campaigner Hanan Mohamed said that female thugs had briefly prevented women from entering the polling station. “When we began yelling, and the press began to arrive, they allowed us entry,” said Mohamed.
“But when we went in, we found wooden boxes instead of transparent glass ones,” she added. “We could hardly slide our ballots in because the boxes were already full to bursting.” Zaghloul, for his part, claimed that vote rigging had been reported nationwide. “Ballot stuffing is happening in all provinces,” he said.
The state-run High Elections Commission invalided a number of “compromised” ballot boxes in the Beheira governorate after they had been destroyed by candidate supporters who attacked at least three polling stations in the Nile Delta. In a separate incident, ballots were stolen from seven polling stations in the Kom al-Baraka district in the same governorate. Police arrested 43 of the alleged perpetrators.

Al-Jazeera English made the following compilation:

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