Thousands block railways in Upper Egypt over NDP election gains

Qena - Bassem Abo Alabass, Saturday 7 Jan 2012

Thousands of people in the Upper Egypt governorate of Qena infuriated as ex-members of the now-defunct National Democratic Party of Hosni Mubarak suspiciously make it to the runoffs

Railways in Upper Egypt disturbed by protesters (Photo: Ahram archive)

Around ten thousand people blocked railways and the Aswan-Cairo highway in the Upper Egyptian City of Nagaa-Hammadi, Qena, late on Friday, to protest the results of the ongoing parliamentary elections in their constituency.

Enraged demonstrations broke out after Abdel-Rehim Al-Ghoul, a former National Democratic Party (NDP) member, made the third round’s runoffs through fixing results, protesters believe, and now will vie with Fathy Kandeel, also an NDP man, for the workers and farmers seat.

Election Judges who monitor the vote announced the results of the individual seats in Qena at 5am CMT on Friday as the vote-counting process inexplicably took 31 hours, thus raising suspicions that the vote was rigged.

Demonstrators subsequently rallied on the railways as Muslim Brotherhood (MB) members tagged along, setting up a stage on the tracks. The MB says Ali Al-Sheshni, a candidate of the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), was denied an electoral triumph as a result of blatant fraud.

Other protesters halted traffic on the Aswan-Cairo highway by setting ablaze numerous tires across the road. They have embarked on an open-ended sit-in until the government meets their demand, which is re-election for the individual seats in their constituency.

For the professional seat, Salafist candidate, Ahmed Dobae will compete in the runoff elections with General Khaled Khalf Allah, the former head of state security's department in Sohag governorate.

Fifteen electoral lists and 89 individual candidates competed for 12 parliamentary seats in North Qena. It is one of the largest Egyptian governorates, consisting of 5 consistencies in Abou-Tesht, Nagaa-Hammadi, Farshot, Al-Waqf and Deshna.

According to head of the Supreme Electoral Commission (SEC), Judge Abd El-Aziz Ibrahim, the results of the first round Egypt’s parliamentary elections’ third round would be announced on Saturday.

The third round, listing nine governorates, got underway on Tuesday. 14 million people were declared eligible to cast their votes in the two-day ballot.

As most polling stations in Qalyoubia, Gharbeya, Daqahleya, Minia, Qena, North Sinai, South Sinai, Wady el Gedeed and Matrouh opened their doors at 8am, the turnout was all-in-all low in this final round of Egypt's post January 25 revolution poll.

The remnants of the dismantled Mubarak party have turned into outcasts since the January uprising, with many campaigns and political forces calling on authorities to legally rule them out of political life.

The ruling military council indeed introduced a disenfranchisement law barring high-profile NDP members from running for public offices for five years.

However, the legislation become effective only three days ahead of the elections which started on 28 November 2011, leaving no time for authorities to enforce it on the former regime figures who have been seeking a way back to the parliament.

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