23:43 Come back tomorrow when Ahram Online will be doing it all over again for the second day of the first leg in the opening round of the Egypt's first parliamentary elections since the military junta took over after the uprising against Hosni Mubarak's regime.
23:13 The "moderate Islamist" Wasat Party accuses the Muslim Brotherhood of stealing ballot papers in Damietta. Neither the Brotherhood nor its Freedom and Justice Party are yet to comment on the accusation. Needless to say, it's worth waiting for.
22:40 Abdel Moez Ibrahim, head of the Supreme Electoral Commission (SEC), has been giving a press conference just now in which he grudgingly went over the day's incidents. He started off, and set the tone for the event, by stating that he is not responsible for the delay some polling stations experienced before receiving ballot papers.
Ibrahim went on to reveal that only three clashes broke out at polling stations. These he listed as having taken place in Cairo at: Collage de la Salle School in Daher, Ahmed Shawqi School in Matareya and a station in Sharabia. The three were, as a result, closed.
Maintaining an offensive tone throughout, Ibrahim also stressed that he was not attempting to hide problems experienced during the vote and pledged to avoid repeating the mistakes made today. As for tomorrow, polling stations will not close until everyone has had the chance to cast their vote, even if the deadline has passed, said Ibrahim.
The lack of ballot papers drove some judges to leave the polling stations they were supervising.
Ibrahim ended the press conference by mentioning that In the village of Armant el-Heit in Luxor, a polling station was shut down after a policeman was caught filling in multiple ballot papers.
22:35 Egypt's Ministry of Health reports that there have been 25 injuries during the day's voting. According to a statement released by the ministry, all of the cases were "unintentional."
21:52 Images on television show ballot boxes being secured for the night with paper and wax. Apparently, Al Gore, all it takes to prevent electoral fruad is paper and melting candles.
21:13 An official confirmation of the violations that have been happening up and down polling stations today. Egypt’s National Human Rights Council reports that 391 complaints have been lodged with it on the first day of elections. The council’s monitoring unit has named the Freedom Party, Freedom and Justice Party, and “some independent” candidates as the main violators of electoral law.
The main violations are campaigning at polling stations, the late start of voting in some districts and the use of religious slogans by candidates.
Earlier today, the Supreme Electoral Commission head Abdel Moez Ibrahim dismissed widely reported incidents of campaigning after the 48-hour deadline ahead of the polls as of no consequence.
21:01 It's gone nine and all across the nine governorates polling stations close and ballot boxes secured for the night ahead of another day of voting, That's the idea anyway.
20:40 With less than half an hour to go before voting finishes, the Egyptian Current Party has revealed that peripheral polling stations in the Ain Shams district of Cairo have yet to take delivery of their ballot papers.
20:34 Our correspondent in Heliopolis has just voted. He reports that outside the polling station campaigning was going on by all groups and parties from the Salafist Nour Party to famed blogger Mahmoud Salem (who goes by the moniker Sandmonkey).
For many of the voters he stood in line with, choosing from the list of 96 candidates on the individual list was overwhelming.
“It’s too early for us to recognise the candidates, but we can throw our support behind ideas,” suggested one voter.
“I don’t even know why we have individuals [candidates],” concurred another. “They should just run as lists.”
The long list of candidates, from which voters must choose two, is playing a significant part in holding up the lines, our correspondent adds, with it taking as long as 15 minutes for some to reappear from their booths.
20:02 Former prime minister Essam Sharaf, who resigned with his cabinet last week amid the killing and injury of hundreds of protesters, said on Twitter: “For this day I put up with the unbearable. I would like to thank the people who made the elections succeed.”
19:52 According to El-Badeel news website, several political parties are engaged in buying votes in Cairo and Alexandria.
Election observers have told El-Badeel that among the offenders are the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party, the Salafist Al-Nour, established liberal party Al-Wafd and members of the dissolved NDP who have all been buying off voters with mobile phone credit cards and meat in various impoverished neighbourhoods.
19:09 Ahram Online has spoken to Judge Ahmed El-Zend, president of the Judge’s Club, who confirms that a number of judges monitoring the election process have been taken hostage in polling stations by voters angry at the tardiness of ballots.
El-Zend spoke on the phone to some of these judges, in the presence of Ahram reporters, and assured them that he would do his best to make sure that they continue to play their part to serve Egypt in this historic election, and that every judge in the country "will sleep at his home with their families tonight."
Judge El-Zend advised besieged judges to avoid entering into discussion with angry voters, many of whom have been waiting hours for ballots to arrive, to avoid an escalating any tension.
18:58 Monitoring organisation Shafafeya reports that Muslim Brotherhood members have, since 11am, been transporting large groups of elderly women from impoverished districts to their polling stations to vote for the Freedom and Justice party. More irregularities by zealots or laying on a service for the under-represented?
18:49 To meet the unprecedented voter turnout, the Supreme Electoral Commission has decided to dispatch another 3,000 ballot boxes to polling stations in the nine governorates voting in today's first leg of the parliamentary vote.
This brings the number of boxes that the SEC has fielded today alone to 18,836.
As we earlier reported, the large numbers waiting in long queues -- compounded by late starts at some stations -- has moved the SEC to keep polling open for an extra two hours to 9pm.
18:31 With all the attention of police and army on the elections and anti-SCAF protesters, Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) has taken it upon itself to beef up security at archaeological sites and museums in Egypt. According to Mustafa Amin, secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA), the number of the SCA security guards has been doubled at archaeological sites across the country.
18:20 Simon Hanna's video report on the day for Ahram Online has just gone up. At one polling station in Cairo, a voter tells Simon that "There are groups in there who are aggressive and this aggression can only mean they're here for a particular person."
Meanwhile in Tahrir Square, one protester explains that he's boycotting the elections for several reasons, one being the heavy presence of former National Democratic Party members in the ballot. Another opponent of the ruling military council, however, is of the opinion that voting, and not boycotting, is the best way to confront Egypt's junta.
Last week, protests against the military rulers hold on power resulted in at least 41 people being killed by Egypt's security forces. With the violence and deaths so fresh in the mind, many Egyptians have called for either a boycott of the vote or a postponement to allow a civilian government to oversee the process.
17:48 Mohamed Abdallah, an organiser with the Popular Socialist Alliance Party and the Revolution Continues electoral coalition, told Ahram Online that his party has filed at least five complaints so far with the Supreme Electoral Commission to document voting irregularities in the Cairo, Damietta and Fayyoum governorates.
Abdallah says that that judges and police officers in his own district of Boulaq Abu El-Ela in Cairo are allowing Muslim Brotherhood supporters to help illiterate voters locate their name and national identification numbers on eligible voters' lists, thus increasing the likelihood that these voters could also be led to mark down Brotherhood candidates as their choice on ballots.
"I am angry because I just witnessed the army, police and Brotherhood working as one hand in my district," Abdallah said.
17:36 A number of lawyers who volunteered to observe voting in Assiut have documented in a report the violations witnessed in the Upper Egyptian governorate. Their report has been sent to the head of the judiciary committee. Which should be interesting since among their complaints is the failure of several judges to show up at their allotted polling stations. The late opening of several polling stations is another of the complaints lodged by the lawyers.
17:22 The Muslim Brotherhood tweet: @Ikhwanweb
#FJP Chair: volunteers have strict orders not to violate campaign laws, will investigate reports & take immediate actions.
The announcement comes after complains in different districts and from various political parties that Freedom and Justice volunteers are leafleting and campaigning outside voting stations, in blatant violation of the electoral law
17:14 A quick glance at the Twitter-verse, where, apart from lots of mentions of campaigning irregularities, the mood is quite upbeat :
Amira Howeidy tweets: Today the EGYPTIAN PEOPLE got to be part of the political process for the first time 60 years. Viva revolution!
Ghada Shahbender tweets: Amazing participation, bad organization! The Egyptian people ready for Democracy.. authority obviously not. Power to people.
Mosa'ab Elshamy tweets: Cilantro Zamalek waiters are at the voter queues taking orders and delivering. Sigh, Zamalek.
Mohamed Fadel Fahmy tweets: Back in Tahrir Square where the Egyptian elections were born from womb of Jan25 Several thousand talking politics on a cool sunny day. Peace
17:10 Angry voters in Mattariya have taken the election judge at the polling station in Ahmed Shawki school hostage.
Judge Ahmed Ezzat Khamis pleaded with the police and army to set him free, but officers told him that they do not have any credentials to interfere in such matters.
Some of the voters in Mattariya have been waiting in vain since as early as 8am for ballots to arrive to the polling station.
Meanwhile, the judge has contacted the Judge’s Club to intervene on his behalf with the police and army in order to convice them to end his capture.
17:03 Verbal exchanges have broken out between supporters of the Salafist Nour Party and supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood Freedom and Justice Party in Fayoum. Over the finer points of Islamic Jurisprudence and how that pertains to making the most of the revolution, no doubt.
16:57 In Nasr City at the Abbas El-Akkad School polling station, voters who turned up at 8am had to wait five hours before they were able to enter. According to voters there, ballot papers were late arriving from the local police station. To compound the disarray, one of the supervising judges confirmed that the ballot boxes initially lacked the necessary locks, which officials at the station had to go out and buy.
Once the locks were on the boxes and the papers in, the probelems did not end. With no observers turning up for duty, voters were asked to step into the breach and volunteer their time after casting their vote.
In Zamalek, popular committees have begun to tour polling stations in a bid at putting an end to the campaigning by some candidates outside polling stations, which contravenes electoral law.
16:45 This just confirmed, the Supreme Electoral Commission has extended voting in today round of voting to 9pm at all polling stations. There is light at the end of that long queue for people waiting to cast their ballot.
16:15 Human rights actovist Aida Saif El-Dawla tweets that in the district of Awayed in Alexandria, at the Agriculture School (ballot station 851), the Salafist Nour Party candidate is filling out forms for voters himself.
16:10 Potential presidential candidate Abdel Moniem Aboul Fotouh tweets: We should remember that what we have accomplished today is the fruit of the sacrifices of the martyrs who died on 25 January and 19 November for freedom and an end to corruption. (translation).
16:06 SEC chairman Abdel Moez Ibrahim confirms that poll stations that opened late will remain open after 7pm. Ibrahim also ordered subcommittee heads to sign the ballot papers that lack the SEC's stamp.
The SEC has received more than 70 complaints pertaining mostly to delays in opening polling stations, the tardy arrival of ballot papers as well unstamped ballot papers in some polling stations.
16:02 Egypt’s Grand Imam Ahmed El-Tayeb has just voted in the Masr El-Gedida Preparatory School in the Cairo suburb of Heliopolis.
15:25 Hundreds of voters in Mattariya in northern Cairo are protesting at the Industrial Technical Institute, the district’s polling station, as ballots for 10 out of the 12 voting sub-stations in the district had not yet arrived as of 12pm.
Voters, waiting since 8am, are also complaining of the disrespect shown by police. Moreover, some constituents believe that the ruling military council has secured the arrival of ballots in sub-committees where the concentration of eligible voters favours certain parties over others.
Earlier, the police chief in Ain Shams was suspended for failing to secure the delivery of ballots to Mattariya and other districts that fall under his jurisdiction. A special force has been dispatched by Cairo’s police directorate to deliver the ballots.
15:20 A judge supervising the elections in the El-Sahel district in Cairo fainted, allegedly due to stress and work pressures. The judge was reportedly replaced. Another judge in the Mattariya district hs reportedly also fainted which ended the proceedings in two polling stations at the Mattariya Secondary School for Boys.
Judges were yesterday granted LE1 million life insurance policies by the Judges Club due to the high risk nature of the job.
15:10 The Islamist Wasat Party filed a complaint in Fayoum against the Muslim Brotherhood's FJP for breaching election laws by leafleting outside electoral polls and using microphones to call on people to vote for their candidates.
15:05 Volunteers from the Egyptian Social Democratic Party (ESDP) told Ahram Online that 12 electoral polls in the working class district of El-Massara in south Cairo have not opened. Many people outside the stations insist that they are not going anywhere until they vote, while others have decided to leave after being told to come back again Tuesday.
14:59 Mohamed Farouk Abu-Zeid, a candidate on the electoral list of the Egyptian National Party, pulled out a pistol, creating panic and disorder at the Anfoushi polling station in Alexandria.
Election workers quickly surrounded the candidate. No injuries were reported. Afterwards Abu-Zaid attempted to assure people at the station that his pistol was licensed and that he unintentionally drew his gun due to the crowds but did not mean any harm.
The Egyptian National Party was formed after the 18-day uprising ousted president Hosni Mubarak. Among the party members are several supporters of Mubarak’s dismantled NDP.
14:50 Karem Radwan, a Muslim Brotherhood official says there was a five hour delay in the opening of 51 polling stations in the districts of Helwan and El-Tabeen because the administrative employees in the stations went on strike, refusing to work until their lives were insured just like the judges.
On Sunday, the head of the Judges Club Ahmed El-Zind announced in a press conference that the Club had handed out LE1 million life insurance policies to all judges participating in the elections.
14:45 Farid Zahran, a leading member of the Egyptian Social Democratic Party, tells Ahram Online the Muslim Brotherhood FJP and Salafis are committing wide-scale violations of the vote, including ballot stuffing in some voting stations in provincial areas. He also accused the Islamist parties' supporters of preventing Copts from entering voting stations to cast their votes in some Upper Egyptian constituencies.
14:30 Street vendors in Cairo found a golden opportunity in the long queues of voters waiting to cast their votes. Before polling stations throughout the city, vendors are selling tea and food for the voters. Not only street vendors, however. Cilantro Café in Zamalek is taking orders from the voters standing in a long queue in front of the polling station.
14:05 The televised press conference on today's vote by SEC head Abdel Moez Ibrahim continues. Ibrahim says mistakes and violations in today's polling are because the first round is an "experimental" one. He also adds that ongoing campaigning, which defies a 48-hour campaign ban prior to the start of elections, by supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood affiliated FJP is minor and of no consequence. Ibrahim states that turnout is set to be much higher than expected.
The SEC chief also adds that the people who stormed a polling station in Assiut and detained the supervising judge were members of the families of two candidates who were barred from running for elections.
14:00 Ahmed Abu Baraka, one of the leaders of the FJP denied reports that the party is violating electoral rules and handing out campaign flyers in front of polling stations. Abu Baraka accused the media of “systematically” spreading these rumours, which he says are completely false.
“None of the members of FJP has committed any violations of the rules, and what is happening now is a systematic media campaign against us by our competitors who own satellite channels and are violating the rules of ethical journalism," Abu Baraka said.
Reports of intensive FJP and Muslim Brotherhood campaigning, including leafleting, have been coming in from Ahram Online reporters around the country and elsewhere in the country since early morning. Meanwhile, social network sites have been publishing dozens of photos and videos showing FJP supporters openly campaigning before polling stations.
13:48 General Hamdy Badeen, military police chief and member of the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), told state-run TV that the security situation is stable in all nine governorates. He also assured voters that military personnel would guard ballot boxes overnight until the second day of voting begins tomorrow.
13:45 At Helmiya Secondary School in the Helmiya district of Cairo voters, standing in long queues since 8am, are still unable to vote, says Ahram Online's reporter, as ballot papers have yet to arrive. The judge inside the station, according to one constituent, told weary voters that thugs are holding up the transfer of papers from Aim Shams police station. The judge also stated that if the station does not receive the papers before 2pm, it will close its doors and ask voters to return on Tuesday. Voters responded by chanting, “We will not leave."
13:40 Abdel Moez Ibrahim, the head of the Supreme Electoral Commission (SEC), says he has issued an order that all electoral stations in which the start of balloting was delayed beyond the set opening time of 8am should be kept open after the set closing time of 7pm to make up for the delay. Speaking at a press conference, Ibrahim blamed the delays on yesterday's rainfall in Cairo and many other cities around the country, which he said, led to severe traffic congestions this morning.
13:31 Satellite news channel CBC is reporting that clashes broke out between voters and security forces in front of the Mustafa Kamel School in the Manshiet Nasser district. Voters were reportedly angry because of delays in the voting process and tried to storm the station prompting security forces to use electro-shock weapons to disperse them. Needless to say, voting at the station has been halted temporarily.
13:25 Potential presidential candidate Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh has just cast his vote at Nasr City Secondary School in Cairo’s outlying suburb of Nasr City. Aboul Fotouh was expelled from the Muslim Brotherhood after putting his name forward for presidential elections despite an MB decision to stay out of the presidential poll. Speaking to reporters, Aboul Fotouh urged Egyptians to vote and ensure that the Armed Forces return to the barracks.
He also suggested that popular committees be set up to guard the ballot boxes overnight until the second day of voting commences tomorrow. He also thanked the martyrs of the Egyptian Revolution for sacrificing their lives so that others might witness this historic vote.
13:24 Voters at Omar Ibn Abdel Aziz School in the district of Shubra in Cairo are complaining that some ballot papers have not been stamped and that some judges are refusing to sign the paper in front of voters who are worried their votes will be voided, according to human rights organisations observing the elections.
13:25 Despite long queues, everything seems calm in lower class district of Khalifa in Cairo. Muslim Brotherhood volunteers have erected tents and tables outside polling stations to assist voters in casting their ballots. Either they feel that their larger than life banners and food handouts have not been enough to steer people to vote for them or they truly wish to help leftists, liberals and other opposition supporters cast their votes successfully.
13:15 Due to the absence of tardiness of many judges, several polling stations around the country today have either not opened or opened hours late. Many observers have also complained of ballot papers arriving late or not arriving at all.
13:12 By noon, Ahram Online reporters in most governorates have reported violations by members of the Muslim Brotherhood’s political arm, the FJP, who have been campaigning and leafleting at many polling stations despite a ban on campaigning for 48 hours before the ballot.
13:10 The Operations Room of the National Council for Human Rights has received 161 complaints since voting commenced at 8am this morning. Most of the complaints pertain to delays in opening polling stations across the country and concerns that ballot papers have not been stamped by the SEC.
13:05 In the Gamal Abdel Nasser School in Nasr City, Cairo more than 1,500 men and 500 women are waiting in long queues to vote, says Ahram Online's reporter on the scene. Many are complaining of the long wait but believe that it is all worth it, according to an Ahram Online reporter.
Some women are discussing who to vote for and why, while others seem worried that Salafists will make sizeable gains in the coming parliament. "Their position towards women is scary; that is why I am here today. To make sure that my vote goes to someone else," one woman told Ahram Online.
Army soldiers securing the schools outnumber their police counterparts, helping elders and disabled to reach their ballot boxes, among other things.
12:55 The Judges Club, representing the countr's judges, expresses concern that many of the polling stations in Cairo still do not have the necessary ballot papers for the voting process to commence. These include polling stations in Helwan, El-Darb El-Ahmar, El-Zeitoun, El-Sharabia, El-Salama, El-Mataria and Ain Shams districts.
The Judges Club have also complained that many of the ballot papers arriving at polling stations have not been stamped by the SEC which would render these ballots null and void.
12:50 The clan supporters of one of the candidates running for a parliamentary seat in Assiut, stormed and ransacked the polling station, detaining Judge Hisham El-Wakeel, expected to observe the elections, and head of the local police district’s criminal investigations.
12:40 In the Abrahimya district in Alexandria, voters form three queues, men women and elderly. The elderly voters’ queue is quite long, according to an Ahram Online reporter, but volunteers are trying to help them to vote as soon as possible. FJP and Nour Party volunteers are heavily leafleting polling stations, feigning ignorance when told their actions were in violation of the law.
Elsewhere in Alexandria, heavy rain forces elder voters to leave. Wafdist youth remain lively, chanting "Ya Beladi" and other patriotic tunes.
12:35 Ahram Online's reporter in the Heliopolis constituency in north Cairo says voters arrived at polling stations before 8am. One woman and her daughter say they had been waiting in the queue since 7:30am and did not vote until after 11:30am, adding, however, that the whole process was very organised. On the whole, she was satisfied with her voting experience. According to our reporter's estimate some 3000 people are queuing in front of the Zahret El-Madaaen School in Nozha. The majority of voters seem to be young adults, between 20 and 40 years of age, and there seems to be a high turnout by Coptic voters.
12:33 Clashes have erupted between supporters of the Salafist Nour (Light) Party and the supporters of independent candidate George Ishak, leading member of the Kifaya (Enough) movement, in front of the Mohamed El-Sayed School in the governorate of Port Said.
12:30 Polliing in the Upper Egyptian governorate of Luxor (site of ancient Thebes) is still calm, as reports indicate that turnout remains low. Of the present voters, many say they will cast their ballots for the Muslim Brotherhood's candidates. The exception to this trend is in city of Essna where Wafd Party candidates have many supporters. Judges in Luxor said that they received ballot papers late, leading to the delayed opening of poll stations. Voting began at 9:30am instead of the official 8am start.
12:28 The Independent Coalition for Monitoring the Elections reports that security forces have fired shots in the air in front of the Maamareya School in the district of Dar El-Salam, Cairo. According to the coalition, voters gathered in front of the polling station had become growingly enraged after it failed to open before 10am, two hours after the official start of voting.
12:22 Ahram Online’s reporter in Sayeda Zienab, Cairo, says many voters began arriving early this morning to cast their vote for the FJP candidates. Many voters told Ahram Online that they will vote for the measuring scale (the Democratic Alliance ‘s electoral list symbol) but do not know who the candidates on the list are.
The paradox of a relaunched Egyptian revolution in Tahrir and an unprecedented turnout to elections at polling stations around the country is underlined by Nora Rafea (@nrafea) in a typically sarcastic tweet: “When you cast your vote in the morning so that by nightfall you act to bring down the legitimacy of the elections, and the whole regime, including the Constitutional Declaration, etc., then you are definitely in Egypt.”
12:05 Judges failing to show up at a polling station in Nasr City at the Abbas El-Akkad School has delayed the start of voting.
12:00 Egypt’s Coptic patriarch Pope Shenouda III will send a delegate to vote for him, says Naguib Gabriel, the head of the Egyptian Federation of Human Rights. According to Gabriel, Egyptian law allows voters to delegate someone to vote on their behalf if they are not physically able to make it to the polling station. Pope Shenouda has been in the US since 16 November where he is receiving treatment at the Cleveland Clinic.
11:57 Voting is now underway in the remaining stations at the Amira Fawzeya School in Maadi’s voting station following the arrival of the absent judge. Things have gone smoothly at the Lycee and Azhar School stations, according to our reporter in the district.
11:51 A very high turnout in the upper class Cairo district of Zamalek since early this morning. In two of the five polling stations, small fights broke out between representatives of the Muslim Brotherhood’s political arm, the FJP, and the liberal Wafd Party – former electoral alliance partner – due to the distribution of flyers outside the polling stations.
11:20 Ahram Online reporter on the scene says polling stations near Mohamed Mahmoud Street, the site of recent clashes between protesters and security forces, are operating in the presence of a daunting military presence. The mood is still tense following the recent deadly clashes as many streets leading to the epicentre of the violence are blocked. The concrete wall erected by the military to prevent protesters from approaching the interior ministry still stands. Last night’s rainfall has left streets throughout downtown flooded while activists hand out flyers from the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), the Egyptian Bloc and the Wafd Party.
The 11-day Tahrir sit-in continues, but protester numbers in front of the Cabinet offices and in the square have dwindled.
11:08 Potential presidential candidate Amr Moussa has cast his vote in the Fatma El-Zahraa School in New Cairo. The former secretary-general of the Arab League reportedly took his place in the queue amid cheers from fellow voters. Moussa spoke to reporters saying that the January 25 Revolution demanded a move from a dictatorship to a democracy, from corruption to reform, from backwardness to progress and that today is the start of that journey. He also described today’s elections as the first step towards democracy.
11:05 Ahram Online’s correspondent in Maadi, Cairo reports that arguments have broken out between voters and a representative from the elections committee at the Amira Fawziya School because two judges have failed to show up. Reports of judge absenteeism have been reported in several other districts. The representative said he can’t make any decisions now.
10:53 Judges supervising the polling station in the Dar El-Salam School in the eighth constituency have abruptly decided to leave the station, arguing that the school’s name does not appear on the list of polling stations. The eighth constituency includes the districts of El-Mukattam, El-Sayeda Zeinab, Masr El-Kadeema and Dar El- Salam.
11:00 More reports stream in, indicating that several polling stations have either not opened yet or opened late. Stations have been reported to lack phosphoric ink which is used to ascertain that a voter has only voted once while other reports indicate that judges have not been stamping ballots instead signing them to the great dismay of many voters.
10:57 A verdict to halt the elections in Assiut’s second district is not being implemented, as the elections committee did not receive the court ruling.
10:55 Observers in Alexandria’s second district, El-Raml, have reported microbuses transporting what they allege are voters for business tycoon Tarek Talaat Moustafa from Cairo to Alexandria. Moustafa was a prominent member of the leadership of Mubarak's defunct National Democratic Party (NDP)
10:52 The Amira Fawzia School in Maadi has three polling stations working and three not working, according to our correspondents. One of the candidates, journalist Moustafa Bakry, has been leafleting at the stations, causing arguments among the voters, with many objecting that this is in violation of the ban on campaigning 48 hours before polling.
10:50 High voter turnout in the city of Luxor. Thousands of voters have been queuing in front of the polling stations since the early morning.
10:40 Ahram Online correspondent reports that the Amira Fawzia School in Maadi, which includes three polling stations, has not opened as the judges charged with supervising the election have not showed up. Voters are leaving in frustration. However, other stations have been operating with very good turnouts, according to another correspondent in the district. No other problems have thus far been reported.
10:15 Ahram Online’s man in Alexandria reports that matters are thus far calm in the El-Raml constituency in Egypt’s second city, Alexandria. Turnout is increase by noon as the voting disctrict sees established Judge Mahmoud El-Khodery, backed by many leftists and Islamists alike, take on former NDP member Tarek Talaat Mostafa
10:00 The Freedom and Justice Party has called upon the Egyptian people to participate in Monday’s elections and to help the armed forces in protecting the polling stations. The party, which is the political leg of the Muslim Brotherhood, said is a statement today that the election represents a safe passage to democracy and the transfer of power to a civil authority. They also urged the Egyptian people of all factions and ideologies to unite to support the elections. The party stressed that no matter who wins in today’s elections, the only losers are the remnants of the old regime who have been trying during the past few months to abort the revolution.
9:30 Day one of Egypt's first parliamentary elections since the 18-day January Revolution kicked off at 8am with very long queues winding around many neighbourhood blocks. The unprecedented early turn-out comes against the backdrop of the re-launch of the Egyptian revolution, which saw the reoccupation of Tahrir Square since 19 November, and three million man demonstrations taking place. On Tuesday and Friday over a million people gathered in Tahrir, and were joined by tens of thousands taking part in demonstrations around the country. The revolutionaries demand that the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) hand-over power to a civilian Government of National Salvation (GNS). They named Nobel Peace Prize winner and potential presidential candidate Mohamed Baradei to head that government.
Though there were several calls among the revolutionary youth to boycott the parliamentary polls if SCAF persists in ignoring their demands, the boycott call seemed to fizzle out as the first day of stage 1 of the election came around Monday, which saw most pro-revolutionary forces taking part. These include the Egyptian Social Democratic Party, which had issued, a few days before, a strongly worded statement threatening a boycott and stating that the ESDP did not trust SCAF to oversee a fair and free election. Also taking part arethe Revolutionary Youth Coalition and the Revolution Continues coalition. The Egyptian Bloc, made up mainly of the ESDP and the Free Egyptians Party, have encouraged Tahrir's occupation to go out and vote.
Since early morning, the Muslim Brotherhood have conspicuously been campaigning in front of polling stations, openly breaking the 48 hour campaign ban prior to the start of polling.
Polls will be open today and tomorrow after the Supreme Electoral Commission (SEC) extended the voting last week. The first stage of elections, which will last until 5 December, includes nine governorates: Cairo, Alexandria, Fayyum, Assiut, Luxor, the Red Sea, Port Said, Damietta and Kafr El-Sheikh. Over 16 million people are eligible to cast their votes in this stage.
On Sunday, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry said that Egyptians living abroad had flocked to embassies around the world to cast their votes. The voting period in the United States was extended one more day, to Monday, following complaints that the existing window did not give many enough time to get to the nearest consulate.
Of the 168 seats up for grabs in the first round, 56 will go to independents and 112 to candidates running on party lists. Around 50 million of Egypt's 80 million are eligible to vote and roughly half of these voters reside in nine governorates set to vote over the next two days.