AU, international bodies say 'no violations' reported so far while observing Egypt's presidential elections

Ahram Online , Tuesday 27 Mar 2018

 polling station
A voter casts his ballot at a polling station in the Nile Delta city of Tanta, some 100 kilometres north of the capital, on the second day of the Egyptian presidential elections on March 27, 2018 AFP

A number of international organisations that are observing the voting in Egypt's 2018 presidential elections have said the process is going smoothly, two days into the three-day vote.

"Voters cast their ballots in a very peaceful and organised environment on the first and second day of elections," said Abdallah Diop, the head of the 40-strong African Union observers’ mission, praising the security presence around polling stations and the organisation among voters.

The observers are deployed to 12 governorates across the country to monitor both the voting and the vote count on Wednesday night.

"No violations or complaints were registered by the AU observers' team," he added.

Hope Kingere, the head of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) observers' team, told Ahram Online that the organisation had not registered any violations or received any complaints on the first day of elections, which took place on Monday.

COMESA, an African regional grouping of which Egypt is a member, is one of nine international bodies monitoring the vote. It has deployed a team of 32 people to different governorates to monitor the vote.

"The organisation indicated an increasing turnout in the elections by the hour and will release its final report on Thursday," Kingere said.

Around 59 million registered Egyptian voters started polling in Egypt's presidential elections on Monday to decide between incumbent President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi and Ghad Party head Moussa Mostafa Moussa to serve as the country's leader for the upcoming four-year term.

Polls close at 9pm on Wednesday.

Fifty-four local and nine international NGOs were authorised by the National Elections Authority to monitor the elections, as well as 18,000 judges disbursed at more than 13,000 polling stations across the country.

Eissa Goufa, a representative of the Sahara and Sahel intergovernmental organisation, another entity monitoring the elections, told Ahram Online that the organisation has disbursed a team of 19 observers in Cairo, Sharqiya, Menoufiya, Alexandria and Ismailia governorates, and didn’t register any complaints or violations on Sunday and or Monday.

"The organisation interviewed judges and voters at polling stations, where all praised organisation, security, and the smoothness of the voting process in general," Eissa added.

The NEA announced on Tuesday it has cancelled a one-hour break at all polling stations across the state, from 3pm to 4pm, due to complaints from state employees for not being able to vote as the break coincided with the end of their work hours.

On Monday, the NEA said that initial indications showed high voter turnout on the first day of Egypt's 2018 presidential elections, with the highest participation registered in Cairo, Alexandria, Giza, Qalioubiya, Assiut and Aswan.

The authority also said the voting in North Sinai, where Egypt's security forces have been taking part in the counter-terrorism initiative Operation Sinai 2018, saw a high turnout, indicating that the security situation did not affect the process.

Alexandria governor Mohamed Sultan said on Tuesday the governorate had seen a high turn out on the first hours of the second day of elections as well.

"Our elections observation room indicated a high turnout at almost all polling stations in the governorate," he said.

With 3.8 million voters, Alexandria forms one of the largest voting areas, after Giza, Cairo, Sharqiya and Beheira governorates.

In Helwan in Greater Cairo on Tuesday, a mass rally circled through working class El-Tebien neighbourhood calling for citizens to vote in the elections, while polling stations in Zamelek in central Cairo and in Rod El-Farrag district to the west of the Nile saw a considerable turnout, especially from women, according to Al-Ahram Arabic website.

The results are scheduled to be announced on or before 2 April, unless there is a run-off, which would take place on 24-26 April.

In the 2014 presidential elections, in which El-Sisi won 96 percent of the vote and beat leftist politician Hamdeen Sabahi, 24.5 million out of 54 million voters took part, or 47 percent.

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