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Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Live updates: Early days in Egypt elections

After Monday's massive turnout, Egyptians voted for a second day in the first round of parliamentary elections

Ahram Online , Tuesday 29 Nov 2011
Women vote in polling station at school in Zamalek on 2nd day of Egypt elections, 29 November 2011 (Photo: Reuters)
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Views: 6817

23:11 Counting in the nine governorates that came out in strong numbers to vote these past two days is going on through the night. Come back tomorrow morning for the results for the independent candidates as soon as they are announced.

23:04 The operation chamber of the Judges’ Club has offered an update on the judges locked up in their polling stations. The number of stations attacked has risen from the 11 we last reported to 12. Of those, it now seems that eight are under control after the intervention of military police, freeing the judges and security personnel trapped held inside. Clashes, however, are still ongoing at four other polling stations in Mataria, El-Basatin, Ain Shams and Helmia, all in Cairo.

22:44 Television cameras can roll again from Gezira, where Yasmine El Rashidi tweets that parliamentary candidate Gameela Ismail has calmed people down and the commission employees have returned to their counting tables.

22:37 That Gezira Youth Centre counting station we reported as being still at 20:44 is currently stalled in its tracks by electoral commission employees who are refusing to begin going through the ballot papers until they are paid. They want to be paid for their night's work up front instead of waiting until tomorrow. Obviously state TV's cameras are not there, but journalist and writer Yasmine El Rashidi is and she's tweeting on the disruption. 

22:15 More about those supervising judges being held hostage in their polling stations. According to Ahmed Kenawy, a member of the Elections Supervising Committee at the Judges' Club, 11 stations in total were attacked tonight and the judges and security forces locked inside. Order was restored at five stations, but judges and security personnel are still detained in the other six.  

Kenawy added that around 3,000 people are involved in the violence at each station, pointing to it having nothing to do with disgruntled voters as no more than 2,000 are registered at each affected location. 

21:55 Representatives of the Free Egyptians Party, the leading player in the liberal Egyptian Bloc, claim that people affiliated to the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party broke into electoral committee 385 in El-Darb El-Ahmar where they assaulted representatives of other parties and opened the sealed ballot boxes. Residents of the district clashed with the offending Brothers, according to the Free Egyptian Party representatives.

21:31 Ahmed El-Zend, head of the Judges' Club, has revealed that over 25 judges commissioned to supervise the voting are currently imprisoned by thousands of people who penetrated five Cairo-based electoral committees after the closure of ballot.

El-Ahd El-Gedid School in Rod El-Farag, Hemeit El-Zatoun Girl School, Om El-Moomenin School in Sahel, El-Koba School in Zeitoun and El-Zawia School are the five polling stations that were affected.

21:25 It's worth noting that the coverage being broadcast on private and state television from inside the counting stations is unprecedented in Egypt.

21:20 Further corroboration of charges of electoral irregularities by groups and parties, especially Islamists. One World for Development, a non-profit civil society organisation that has monitored the first two days of voting in Egypt’s parliamentary elections, has documented a substantial list of violations and irregularities in the voting process.

These violations include:

Supporters of both the Salafist Al-Nour Party and the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party persisted in illegally campaigning outside polling stations.

Salafists posted fatwas (religious decress) at the entrances to some polling stations reminding voters that it would be sacrilegious not to vote for their Al-Nour Party.

Election clerks failed to verify the identity of many fully veiled women voters.

The Freedom and Justice Party and the liberal Egyptian Bloc both broke campaign regulations in Boulaq in Cairo as they competed inside of polling stations to influence voters’ choice up to the last minute.

21:08 The Egyptian Current party slams the police securing the East Cairo counting station for preventing the Revoltuion Continues candidate Tasser Abdel Salam from entering, as is his right.  

20:44 More images on state TV from counting stations. In Cairo. the station for downtown, Zamalek and Kasr El-Nil is empty whereas Fayoum, where the counters are busy going through the ballot papers, makes for better television.

20:21 Mohamed El-Sherbini, spokesperson of the Ministry of Health, says the two day of voting has resulted in 35 injuries. Ten of these, he adds, were from today.

El-Sherbini goes on to reveal that of the cases, 14 are from Cairo, four Assiut, three Fayoum, seven Alexandria, three in Luxour and one in Damietta. Three more hail from unspecified areas.

He also said 12 of the injured were treated on the spot while 23 were hospitalised. Only five remain under observation in hospital.

Six of the voters suffered fractures and bruises due to heavy crowds during voting. Other suffered high or low blood pressure. 

Meanwhile, ballot boxes are being transported in armed forces' vehicles to their counting stations. In past elections, the police were tasked with escorting the few votes there were. 

20:05 Egypt's National Human Rights Council reports that is has received more than 1,000 complaints regarding electoral violations in the two days of voting. Most of these complaints concern illegal campainging by Islamist group,s, according Hazem Mounir from the council's Electoral Monitoring Unit. 

19:53 State TV is broadcasting from the counting station in Luxor where the ballot boxes are starting to arrive. Counting will continue through the night in the nine governorates that voted in this first round with the individual candidate results expected tomorrow morning.  

19:37 General Ismail Atman, a member of the military council ruling Egypt, has told Al Jazeera of his certainty of how the voter turnout in the first round of elections will prove to be. "There is no actual or definitive estimate, but I assure you that, until now, it will go above 70 per cent. I hope it will reach more than 80 per cent by the end of the day," he said with unbridled confidence.

Reuters report an independent monitoring official as saying the turnout "could easily rise above 50 per cent."

19:10 In the Ain Shams district of Cairo, where polling stations remained closed yesterday until as late as 6pm, voters are still being allowed to cast their ballot, according to eyewitnesses.

State TV is broadcasting images of voters still waiting at a polling station In Alexandria.

19:01 It's gone 7, the official cut-off point for voting in the nine governorates involved in the first round of parliamentary elections.

18:55 Five minutes to go in the first round of voting. Even though the head of the Supreme Electoral Commission stated yesterday that polling stations will remain open until everyone has a chance to cast the vote, from the quieter scenes and shorter queues today, it seems the 7pm cut-off will be when the doors shut.

17:56 The minister of foreign affairs, Mohamed Kamel Amr, has reported to the outgoing cabinet of Essam Sharaf that ballot boxes from 100 Egyptian embassies around the world have arrived in Cairo. Amr said that preliminary counts show that between 60 to 70 per cent of Egyptians registered in embassies abroad cast ballots in the parliamentary elections, and that the ministry is waiting for more diplomatic missions to send their boxes.

17:46 Two organisations, Justice for Human Rights and Kalema for Protecting Citizen Journalists, report that supporters of the Salafist Al-Nour party have attacked activist Mohamed Abdel Aziz in the city of Fayoum. The Salafists are accused of beating Abdel Aziz and breaking his camera after spotting him taking photos of them illegally campaigning at a polling station in the village of Sanhour.

The Salafists are certainly doing their best to emulate past Egyptian electoral traditions.

17:41 Yosri Hammad, spokesman of Al-Nour party, has apologised after a photo depicting the image of a church and the slogan "Your vote goes to the cross protectors" was edited to appear as a flyer for the liberal Free Egyptians party and posted on the Salafist's Facebook page.

17:38 Cairo's deputy governor has come out and stated that voter turnout in the capital “might exceed 80 per cent” of those eligible to vote. With Cairo the most populated governorate in the country this says a lot about where these elections stand compared to those of recent past. Although where his numbers come from he did not say, hence that "might."

17:36 The main Egyptian market index, the EGX30, ended the day up 5.48 per cent and with a sigh of relief after two days of voting passed mostly without violence. This gain klames today the market's best since the revolution, confirms Mustafa Badra, a capital market expert. We'll be publishing our daily Market Report shortly.

16:55 Hafez Abu Seada, head of the Egyptian Organisation for Human Rights (EOHR), who is running as an independent in the Basateen district of Cairo has said on Twitter that unknown individuals attacked his supporters in the constituency's El-Khalifa neighbourhood. Abu Seada added that one friend was injured before the Army intervened and brought the fight to an end.

In a previous tweet, Abu Seada reported an attack on his supporters in the El-Imamain polling station in El-Khalifa by the former regime. Abu Saeda states that men wielding chains and swords were responsible for the violence, which the local police chief is now inspecting.

16:27 The SEC has re-opened polling stations numbers 84 and 85 at College De La Salle School in the Qasr El-Nil constituency in Cairo after the supervising judge shut them down because of electoral violations, clashes and other reasons which the judge did not elaborate on. 

16:19 Three judges failed to turn up today at three different polling stations in the Ain Shams constituency – a logistical issue that has characterised the past two days of polling. The other supervising judges in the polling stations have reported these transgressions to the Judges’ Club who have in turn reported them to the Supreme Electoral Commission. The three absent judges were among the 11 judges that were forcefully detained on Monday at voting stations in the Ain Shams district by angry voters incensed at the delayed arrival of ballot papers.  

15:33 A security source told Ahram Online that the gun fire that took place earlier in Al-Sawwah had nothing to do with the elections process, pointing out that the violence occurred far from the polling station near Shubra El-Kheima. Three gunmen, as yet unidentified, fired on people with automatic rifles, wounding two and killing one.  Security forces managed to apprehend one of the shooters. 

15:08 The official Facebook page of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) has posted a video showing that representatives of the Egyptian Bloc were leafleting at a polling station in Shubra, and claimed in a separate message on Twitter that they were bribing voters with KFC meals. Another video shows the “moderate” Islamist Wasat Party leafleting at the Sayeda Aisha School in Rod El-Farag, Cairo. The FJP was widely accused yesterday of buying off votes and leafleting. The Islamist Wasat Party even filed an official complaint against the FJP.

14:45 In an attempt to frighten voters, unidentified shooters fired live rounds from a private car on the Al-Sowah Bridge in the Qalioubiya governorate, located north of the Cairo.

An eyewitness said three voters were injured: one took a bullet to the stomach, another in the foot and the third in the chest.

Police, with the help of residents, were able to capture and arrest the shooters.

14:10 SEC head Abdel Moez Ibrahim is holding a press conference now. Ibrahim states that embassies abroad have begun sending in election results but that the Commission will not begin counting them until the election process has been completed.

14:07 Cairo’s security directorate assigned female police officers to women’s polling stations in Nasr City at the behest of Chief of Staff General Sami Anan who toured Nasr City polling stations earlier today. As part of his tour, the number two figure in Egypt’s ruling military council listened to complaints by women voters who demanded female police officers.

In Rod El-Farag, Cairo, a judge supervising a polling station had to be transferred to hospital after falling ill in the polling station. According to the Judges’ Club, he has been replaced by another judge. 

Several voters in Ain Shams consistency reported to the media that ballot papers were not stamped and Supreme Electoral Commission members refused to sign them.

13:54 Minister of Tourism Mounir Fakhri Abdel-Nour states that Egypt is safe for tourists, pointing to the organisation of the elections process as an indicator thereof.

He adds that international media coverage of the Egypt's historic parliamentary polls has put forward a positive image offsetting attempts by countries to discourage their citizens from travelling to Egypt during the election period.

Abdel-Nour said he cast his vote in Cairo's Zamalek district Monday.

13:33 The Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party have released their 4th press release highlighting the importance of voter participation and hailing the people of Egypt for the high turnout rate.

The FJP estimated the national participation rate to be 30-32 per cent on average, with 46 per cent in Port Said, 44 per cent in Kafr El-Sheikh, 37 per cent in Fayoum, 30 per cent in Luxor, 31 per cent in Alexandria and 27 per cent in Cairo. 

13:25 Small clashes broke out between supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood’s political arm, the Freedom and Justice Party, and Salafist Nour Party as a result of leafleting outside one of the polling stations in the governorate of Kafr El-Sheikh. Army and security forces have put an end to the clashes.

The Judges Club has received complaints from 10 supervising judges in different10 polling stations in Cairo regarding the failure of the Supreme Electoral Commission to deliver a fresh round of ballot boxes after the initial boxes were completely filled.

13:17 Ramadan Hawwari, a candidate running under the Wafd Party's list in the Fayoum governorate, confirmed that he has gone on hunger strike after being disrespected by a police officer at a voting post.

Hawwari said that the officer disrespected him and held him inside the voting station when he complained that some of the candidates’ relatives were allowed into the station.

He added that he had gone to the polling station to observe the electoral process but was stopped by one of the soldiers guarding the station. When he explained that he was a candidate and has the right to observe the process, an officer guarding the school turned polling station detained him.

The Fayoum governorate's security director ordered the release of the Wafd Party candidate after he announced his hunger strike inside the voting station.

12:52 After yesterday’s high turnout, today's voter participation is substantially less across the nine governorates taking part in the first stage of the People's Assembly elections, Parliament's lower house. Violations and logistical concerns have been markedly less for the first half of today. The second half will surely pick up momentum, as all eyes, domestic and foreign, turn to the transport of ballot boxes, counting and the rush to announce results.

Mohammed Abdelfattah tweets: Tonight will be an exciting night as vote is counted and results declared by party organizers

12:40 Chief of Staff General Sami Anan, the number two man in the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), visited poll stations in Cairo's Heliopolis and Al-Nozha districts. Anan said he was pleased with the electoral process and made assurances that ballot boxes were secured overnight.

The SCAF member greeted and shook hands with a number of voters queuing to cast their ballot.

On Monday, Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, Egypt’s de-facto leader, visited polling stations in Cairo's Heliopolis, Nasr City, Al Waili and Abbassiya constituencies. 

12:25 Most polling stations in the Assiut governorate in Upper Egypt have seen a low turnout today. Monitors say the low turnout results from the fact that most voters were able to cast their ballots yesterday.

12:15 The Egyptian government officially denies announcing the voting results for Egyptians residing abroad in any embassy worldwide, as the Muslim Brotherhood affiliated Freedom and Justice Party begins to publish results of the expat vote.

On Monday, Egypt’s ambassador in Beirut, Mohamed Tawfik, announced that the voting results of Egyptians living abroad will be submitted to the Supreme Elections Committee, instead of being announced inside the embassies.

Voting for Egyptian expats started on Thursday and for the most part ended on Sunday. Expats in the US were given a one day extension due to technical and logistical issues.

11:45 Hazem Mounir, a member of the National Council for Human Rights, confirmed that the Council received about 500 election reports on Monday.

He said that most reports focused on the delay of voting stations opening their doors to constituents and voting ballots reaching the polls.

On the television programme, '90 Minutes', Mounir added that other violations included campaigning inside voting stations and passing out gifts to voters.

He praised the overall electoral process and said the abuses mentioned in the reports do not take away from the democratic process. 

11:30 The Ministry of Interior announced that 22 polling stations have yet to start working in Cairo and Fayoum.

In the governorate of Kafr El-Shiekh, three polling stations opened their doors an hour after the official 8am poll-opening due to judge related issues. 

Unlike Monday, the city of Luxor in Upper Egypt is seeing a poor turnout. However, in Essna, within the same governorate, there has reportedly been a high turnout this morning. 

11:00 Alexandria Director of Security Khaled Ghoraba states that no election-related criminal charges were filed in the city on Monday, the first day of parliamentary elections, adding that several criminal charges had been filed in previous elections as a result of chaos at polling stations.

Ghoraba said police assigned to secure the election process are patrolling the coastal city’s streets with special emphasis on areas with polling stations.

The general added that ballot boxes were locked inside polling stations overnight after they had been assembled and secured under the supervision of judges.

The role of the police in the election process is only to secure the ballot boxes from unauthorised access, he said.

10:30 The second and final day of the first stage of Egypt’s first post-Mubarak parliamentary polls kick started at 8am Tuesday with voters queuing to cast their ballots before polling stations opened their doors.

Judges presiding over the electoral process examined the ballot boxes to ensure they were sealed with red wax, used as a security measure to avoid fraud.

The first phase of elections began yesterday in the governorates of Cairo, Alexandria, Assiut, the Red Sea, Luxor, Fayoum, Damietta, Port Said and Kafr El-Sheikh. Poll stations had their doors open to voters until 9 pm yesterday

Yesterday’s voting was marked by a massive voter turnout, few electoral violations, isolated cases of violence and troubling logistical issues.  Several parties, most noticeably the Muslim Brotherhood’s political arm, the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), and those within the Egyptian Bloc, flagrantly violated a 48-hour campaigning ban, leafleting at polling stations among other things.

These violations were dismissed Monday afternoon by the Supreme Electoral Commission (SEC) head Abdel Moez Ibrahim, but following the close of the polls, Egypt’s National Human Rights Council reported that 391 complaints had been lodged with it. The council also named the Freedom Party - an NDP offshoot, the FJP and “some independent” candidates as the main violators of the electoral law.

The main concerns included campaigning at polling stations, the late start of voting in some districts and the use of religious slogans by candidates. Take for instance the FJP’s “Islam is the Solution.”

Logistical problems included the delayed or non transferral of ballot papers to certain stations, the delay or absence of judges and the lack of SEC stamps on ballot papers.

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Shams Hegab
29-11-2011 06:48pm
Elections 2011
As an Expat. I am so very proud of the millions who voted in Cairo,Alexandria ,and other communities across Egypt but very concerned about the widely reported fraud by the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafis. This is not Islam or Islamic teachings to bribe and cheat and intimidate. If one group or another wins,then it must be with dignity and honesty. Those who are ruining elections for many must be stopped,their votes canceled,and prosecuted.
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