Egyptians head to polling stations for a landmark parliamentary election, but many in Tahrir boycott the poll
by Simon Hanna
Egyptians head to the polls for a historic occasion - the first parliamentary elections since former President Hosni Mubarak was toppled by a mass uprising in January and February.
But despite the landmark vote - which Egyptians hope will be their first free and fair election - not everyone wants to take part. Many protesters in Tahrir are actively boycotting the polls, saying that the interim ruling Military Council does not have the legitimacy to organise the elections.
The parliamentary vote was in danger of being postponed after a week of violence in Tahrir, sparked by police trying to forcefully disperse a sit in. The ensuing clashes between stone throwing protesters and military and riot police wielding tear gas, bird shot and other weapons resulted in the deaths of dozens of demonstrators. Thousands were wounded.
A second huge uprising then began in Tahrir - this time against military rule - but the military council (or SCAF) hung on and refused calls for an immediate transfer of power to civilian rule, instead promising to leave after presidential elections in June 2012.
The unrest threatened to derail SCAF’s plans but the elections began on time. Monday marked the beginning of the first round. Nine governorates are taking part, with the remaining governorates voting on December 14th and January 3rd. Runoffs for each round will take place the week after the start of voting.
SCAF will retain their presidential powers after the election and has said that the parliament will not have the power to form a cabinet. That responsibility falls on Kamal El-Ganzouri, the 78 year old former Mubarak-era Prime Minister who was chosen by SCAF to pick a new government.