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Thursday, 19 September 2019

RELIVE: Egyptians cast ballots on first day of 2018 presidential elections

Below is Ahram Online's live coverage from the first day of voting

Ahram Online , Monday 26 Mar 2018
Voters at a polling station
A handicapped Egyptian voter shows his ink-stained pinky finger while sitting in a wheelchair after casting his vote at a polling station polling station in the capital Cairo's eastern neighbourhood of Heliopolis on the first day of the 2018 (Photo: AFP)
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21:00 That concludes Ahram Online's live coverage of the first day of voting.

21:00 Polling stations have now closed, marking the end of the first of three days of voting.

No figures for today’s turnout have been released; however National Elections Authority officials said at a press conference this afternoon that it had initial indicators showing a high turnout, with the highest participation registered in Cairo, Alexandria, Giza, Qalioubiya, Assiut and Aswan.

Polling stations will reopen tomorrow at 9am.

19:45 The State Intelligence Service, the body responsible for monitoring foreign media in the country, said it is continuing to directly communicate with foreign correspondents to follow up on their coverage on the first day of the elections.

In a statement, the SIS said its members have continued communicating with 49 representatives from foreign media between 2pm and 6pm in the governorates of Cairo, Giza, and Alexandria.

It added that its operations room had received a total of three complaints from correspondents, mainly concerning access to polling stations, which the SIS said were resolved with the NEA.

18:30 Defence Minister Sedki Sobhi visited a number of polling stations to check on the security status of voting, a statement by the Egyptian military read.

Sobhi said that the country's armed forces will be a ''deterrent against anyone who should meddle" with the Egyptian nation, adding that it will deal firmly with any attempt to affect the electoral process.

Ministers of Defence of Egypt Sedki Sobhy
Ministers of Defence of Egypt Sedki Sobhy

18:00 Egypt's State Information Service, a body that oversees foreign media in the country, said in a statement on Monday that it has received 19 complaints and inquiries by foreign reporters covering the elections; most were about access to the polling stations, it said, and they have all been resolved.

The SIS operations room is in communication with 110 foreign media outlets and 680 reporters, both resident and visiting, to resolve any issues, Al-Ahram Arabic reported the body as saying.

17:30 Interior Minister Magdy Abdel-Ghaffar has been inspecting the electoral process from the ministry's operations room, a ministry statement said.

He monitored the voting around the country via video conference, and praised security measures undertaken by his ministry and the armed forces in securing polling stations.

17:15 In Aswan governorate in Upper Egypt, the Nour Party have been transporting hundreds of voters to the polling stations in minivans decorated with the party’s posters.

The Salafist party has publicly backed El-Sisi for a second four-year term; it also backed him in the 2014 election that brought him to office.

17:00 Speaking at a press conference that was broadcast on local television, Prime Minister Sherif Ismail said that "no state apparatus" was interfering in the electoral process, which was “fair and transparent.”

Ismail said the elections were running "systematically", and called on Egyptians to participate in casting their ballots.

Prior to the presser, Ismail inspected the cabinet’s operations room, where he also called on governors to continue following up with the process in their governorates.  

16:30 Interior Minister Magdy Abdel-Ghaffar cast his ballot in Cairo's Nasr City district a little earlier this afternoon. In comments to the media, he said that the electoral process is stable and that his ministry is coordinating with the armed forces and taking all procedures to allow citizens to practice their constitutional rights.

16:15 Health Minister Ahmed Emad Rady has said that there have been 43 cases of fainting, high or low blood pressure, and fever at the polls; 24 of those patients received medical treatment at hospital and have subsequently been released.

The health ministry is running an emergency and crisis operations room over the three days of voting to monitor any medical emergencies that may arise during the polling.

16:00 In Qena governorate in the country's south, hundreds of volunteers from a pro-Sisi campaign (“We Are All With You”) have been stationed outside more than 400 polling stations to help voters through the balloting process, municipal campaign coordinator Osama El-Hawary told an Al-Ahram Arabic reporter.

15:10 The National Elections Authority (NEA) is holding a press conference to update the public on the progress of the first day of voting.

"The strength of the election process lies in its transparency," NEA spokesperson Mahmoud El-Sherif told reporters.

The NEA has dealt swiftly with a limited number of complaints and inquiries throughout the day, El-Sherif said.

"Vote for whoever you want to vote for, but do not listen to the voices of negativity or those who call for a boycott," he added.

El-Sherif said initial turnout indications showed “high participation” by voters on the first day of the elections, with the highest turnout registered in Cairo, Alexandria, Giza, and Qalioubiya, the Upper Egyptian governorates of Assiut and Aswan, and in North Sinai.

"The NEA indicated a very high turnout in North Sinai," he said. "Despite the security situation, the governorates' residents challenged the conditions and delivered a very clear message to express their free will." 

14:30 In Banha, a city in the Nile Delta governorate of Qalioubiya, dozens of senior citizens waving flags queued outside polling stations to vote, according to Al-Ahram Arabic news website.

"I'm casting my vote for more security and stability," said 49-year-old Somaya Ibrahim as she waited in line. "This election is a message to terrorists that we don't fear bombings and threats."

14:10 The National Elections Authority (NEA) said that a very limited number of polling stations were late opening, missing the 9am deadline by up to 20 minutes. The delays were due to health emergencies preventing the timely arrival of supervising judges.

"The NEA authorized reserve judges to supervise elections at these polling stations, while the remaining polling stations opened at their scheduled time of 9am," the NEA said in a statement.

"No complaints have been received regarding the elections, either by judges or by voters, up to this moment," the NEA said, indicating a "high turnout" at all polling stations across the country.

The elections are being supervised by 18,000 judges, assisted by 110,000 administrative assistants in 13,706 polling stations in all 26 governorates across the country.

A female Egyptian voter casts her vote
A female Egyptian voter casts her vote at a polling station in the capital Cairo's eastern neighbourhood of Heliopolis on the first day of the 2018 presidential elections on March 26, 2018. (Photo: AFP)

13:45 Presidential candidate and Ghad Party chairperson Moussa Mostafa Moussa cast his ballot at Abdeen High School's polling station in central Cairo. An Ahram Online reporter said Moussa saluted voters at nearby polling stations before voting, with a large number of journalists present.

"The youth are proving to the world that they are standing by their country through voting," Moussa told reporters.

According to a supervising judge at the Abdeen station there was a relatively high turnout at the site.

"More than 400 voters showed up at the station since it opened its doors at 9am," the judge told Ahram Online.

A second Ahram Online reporter said that there was a reasonable turnout for pensioners and the elderly.

As Monday is a normal business day, turnout is likely to be slower in the first part of the day, with more voters expected in the evening.

Moussa Mostafa Moussa
Presidential candidate Moussa Mostafa Moussa in the bottom left corner of the photo (Photo: Zeinab Guindy)

13:30 An Ahram Online reporter at a polling station in Giza governorate said that two foreign observers briefly visited the site and asked several questions with the assistance of a translator. It was not immediately possible to identify which organization they belong to.

The National Elections Authority said last month that 62 NGOs, including nine foreign organisations, are monitoring the poll. In addition, three national councils and six Arab and international agencies, including the African Union, the Arab League and the COMESA Regional Investment Agency, are observing the vote.

13:10 In the Mediterranean city of Alexandria, Egypt's second largest city, there were more women than men in evidence at polling stations in the western district of Bahary and the Eastern Al-Raml district, Egypt’s state-run news agency MENA said.

On Sunday, just one day before the vote, two policemen were killed in a car-bomb attack in the governorate. The terrorist attack targetted the provincial security chief who emerged unscathed.

12:55 Former interim president Adly Mansour (2013-2014) voted in Cairo, as did former foreign minister and 2012 presidential candidate Amr Moussa.

Amr Moussa
Veteran politician and former foreign minister Amr Moussa casting his ballot in Egypt's presidential elections (Photo: Amr Moussa Press Secretary)

12:50 Sheikh Ahmed El-Tayeb, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, cast his ballot at Mostafa Yousry Emeira School’s polling station in Cairo's Heliopolis district.

Schools with polling stations at them, numbering around 11,000, are closed to students for the full three days of voting.

12:30 In North Sinai, where the Egyptian military and police continue to fight terrorist groups, residents headed to polling stations across the governorate.

Over the past two months, the Egyptian military has been conducting a major counter-terrorism initiative named Operation Sinai 2018, with land, naval and air forces aiming to defeat terror groups in north and central Sinai.

12:00 Egyptian radio and TV stations, as well as newspapers, have been encouraging voters to head the polls.

Prior to the elections, Egyptian President El-Sisi and his competitor Moussa Mostafa Moussa both urged voters to turn out in large numbers. In the 2014 presidential elections, which brought El-Sisi to office, the poll, which was initially scheduled to last two days, was extended for a third day, pushing the overall turnout from 37 percent to 47 percent.

Elections 2018
Egyptian youths ride on scooters carrying posters and wearing t-shirts bearing the image of incumbent President El-Sisi and holding national flags outside a polling station on the first day of the 2018 presidential elections, in Boulaq al-Dakrour neighbourhood in the capital Cairo's southwestern Giza district.

11:20 Egypt's National Elections Authority (NEA) has announced the hotline number "19826" for receiving voters' complaints throughout the three days of elections. The authority has confirmed that the elections are running smoothly in all governorates across Egypt.

10:45 An Ahram Online reporter said an electioneering pick-up truck blaring patriotic songs from loudspeakers and plastered with posters of President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi has been circling polling stations in Giza’s Dokki district.

At a polling station in Dokki, Samia Abdel Halim, a woman in her sixties, told Ahram Online, “I’m voting for El-Sisi, not because there is no one else, but because he has done many good things for the country.”

She said that El-Sisi’s presidential rule thus far has brought security and stability to the country.

“Egypt is in need of an officer to protect the country against plots being hatched against it,” she said, referring to El-Sisi's military career, which culminated with the role of commander in chief of Egypt's armed forces.

Voters in Cairo
Egyptians cast their votes at a polling station during the presidential election in Cairo, Egypt, March 26, 2018. (Photo: Reuters)

10:30 Prime Minister Sherif Ismail voted at the Mostafa Yousry Emeira School polling station in the Heliopolis district of Cairo.

10:20 Egypt's Coptic Pope Tawadros II cast his ballot at El-Sarayat preparatory school polling station in Waily district of north Cairo.

Pope Tawadros II
Egypt's Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros (Theodoros) II (C) casts his vote at a polling station in the capital Cairo's central neighbourhood of Abbasiya on the first day of the 2018 presidential election on March 26, 2018 (Photo: AFP)

10:10 Tens of thousands of army and police personnel are securing voting in more than 13,000 polling stations around the country.

Armoured vehicles are stationed outside polling stations and at several points around the capital Cairo, providing security for the voting process, Ahram Online reporters said.

Members of security forces stand guard
Members of security forces stand guard as people wait to cast their vote at a polling station during the presidential election in Cairo, Egypt March 26, 2018. (Photo: Reuters)

09:50 Egypt’s PM Sherif Ismail is monitoring the polling process using video-conferencing technology, state-run news agency MENA said. Ismail is chairing a cabinet operations room comprised of officials from the ministries of defence, interior, justice, health and transport. The operations room is monitoring the polling process and maintaining contact with municipal officials in governorates nationwide.

09:30 Voters started casting their ballots in various parts of the country, lining up in Boulaq El-Dakrour neighbourhood in Cairo, El-Haram district in Giza, and the governorates of Alexandria, North Sinai, Qena in Upper Egypt, the Nile Delta's Gharbeya, and Ismailiya on the Suez Canal. Voters were waving Egyptian flags as they entered  polling stations to cast their ballots.

09:02 President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi casts his ballot at Mostafa Yousry Emeirra School’s polling station in Cairo's Heliopolis district. 

Sisi
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi writes as he arrives to cast his vote during the presidential election in Cairo, Egypt, March 26, 2018 (Photo: Reuters)

09:00 The 13,706 polling stations across Egypt have started to open their doors to voters in Egypt’s 2018 presidential elections.

Egyptians queue to vote in Cairo in 2018 presidential polls

08:45 Voting will take place from Monday to Wednesday, with polling stations opening at 9am and closing at 9pm.

There are two contenders: incumbent President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, and politician Moussa Mostafa Moussa, who heads the Ghad Party. Both have called on voters to turn out in large numbers.

The total number of eligible voters in the national voter database is 59 million, according to the country's National Elections Authority (NEA). 

Expatriates went to the polls at Egyptian embassies around the world last week, although results from the expat voting will not be announced until the final results of the election are released, on or before 2 April, unless there is the need for a run-off vote.

The voting is being supervised by 18,000 judges assisted by 110,000 administrative assistants in 13,706 polling stations in all 26 governorates across the country, the NEA have said.

Tens of thousands of army and police personnel have been mobilised to safeguard polling stations.

The NEA has authorised 54 local NGOs to monitor the elections, along with 15 Arab, African and international bodies.

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