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Second round of Egypt elections wraps up uneventfully

Delays and disputes reported on second day in elections' second round, while head of SEC vows to investigate violations

Ahram Online, Thursday 15 Dec 2011
election 2
Egyptians chat outside a polling center in Giza, Egypt, Thursday (Photo: AP)
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Egypt's second round of parliamentary elections has concluded, as judges at the polling stations oversee the closing of the ballot boxes in the nine governorates of Giza, Sohag, Beni Suef, Aswan, Sharqiya, Menoufiya, Beheira, Ismailiya and Suez.

The Supreme Elections Commission (SEC) head Abdel Moaz Ibrahim stated on Thursday that electoral violations reportedly committed in the second stage of Egypt’s first post-Mubarak parliamentary polls would be investigated.

According to one accusation, a group of fully-veiled women entered a Giza polling station and stuffed ballot boxes. SEC investigators will determine whether or not the act took place with the knowledge of the judge who was overseeing the polling, said Ibrahim.

At a press conference on Thursday afternoon, Ibrahim said that second-round polling had witnessed a number of problems, including last-minute campaigning and smear campaigns targeting certain candidates.

Ibrahim pointed to one such smear campaign that claimed that large-scale vote rigging was going on in the Ismailia and Sharqiya governorates. He said this was an attempt by certain parties to erode public confidence in the Egyptian judiciary. “If these attempts were really followed through with, the nation would collapse,” he said.

Ibrahim commented on another set of reported violations, saying they were mere rumour. These had to do with a judge in Cairo’s Haram district who was accused of directing voters to cast ballots for certain candidates. Ibrahim clarified, however, that the judge in question had merely been assisting a blind voter.

While the second round should have seen the election of 120 MPs in 15 electoral districts via the proportional list voting system, only 96 MPs were to be voted in on Thursday in just 12 electoral districts after the Supreme Electoral Commission postponed party list elections in the three of the nine governorates.

Parliamentary elections for the electoral lists in the governorates of Beheira, Sohag and Menoufiya have been postponed for a week to 21 and 22 December after an Administrative Court ruling that some parties were not included on the ballot paper in the second constituencies of Beheira and Sohag and Menoufiya’s first constituency. Another 60 MPs were also expected to be voted in through the individual candidacy voting system in 30 electoral districts.

Estimates suggested that the governorate of Suez witnessed the highest turnout on the second day of the parliamentary election’s second round. Giza also witnessed a high turnout in the constituencies of Haram, Boulaq, Omraneya and Talbeya. However, the constituencies of 6 October and Sheikh Zayed were almost empty of voters.  

According to the interior ministry, constituencies in five of the nine governorates witnessed delays in voting procedure as judges supervising the elections arrived later than the set date. These governorates included Giza, Beheira, Sohag, Aswan and Sharqiya.

Two major violations were reported. The Egyptian Bloc complained that its headquarters in Suez had been attacked by what Bloc members described as “hired thugs”. The Bloc blamed Islamist parties for the attack, claiming that it is not the first of its kind. However, unknown eyewitnesses claimed that the damage made to the Bloc’s headquarters was due to an internal party disagreement between its members.

On the other hand, the Revolution Continues electoral alliance stated Wednesday night that the head of its party list in Sharqiya, Mohamed Yasser El-Rifay, was severely beaten by army soldiers.

According to an official statement made by the alliance, El-Rifay was assaulted by army soldiers following a dispute on whether the party candidate should be allowed in the polling station or not; El-Rifay insisted he should be allowed in while military personnel at the door refused him entry. El-Rifay was dragged into the polling station building and beaten so severly that he had to be moved to hospital where he remained unconscious for several hours.

Violations reported in the first round were mainly limited to persistent campaigning as voters queued to vote. The violations reported in the second round have been, according to some reports, much more serious and violent than those reported in the first round.

Islamists gained a much higher number of seats than expected in the first round. The individual candidacy seats were particularly monopolised by Islamist parties. However, the liberal dominated Egyptian Bloc said it was better prepared to contest the individual candidacy seats in the second round as it plans to coordinate with non-Islamist candidates that do not necessarily belong to the Bloc’s alliance.

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