Upper Egypt village boycotts polls for lack of bread, butane

Islam Radwan , Tuesday 10 Jan 2012

Residents of an Upper Egyptian village in the governorate of Assiut eschew third-round runoff vote in the parliamentary elections to protest local shortages of bread and butane gas canisters

Beni Idris
Residents of the village of Beni Idris embark on a protest (Photo: Ahram)

Most residents of the village of Beni Idris in the Upper Egyptian ‎Assiut governorate refused to cast ballots on Tuesday in Egypt’s ‎first post-Mubarak parliamentary polls to protest outstanding ‎economic grievances, including local shortages of bread and ‎butane gas canisters.‎

Protesters carried banners on Tuesday – the first day of third-‎round runoff elections – reading, “If there’s no bread or gas, ‎there can be no People’s Assembly or Shura Council.” Similar ‎banners urging people not to vote were hung throughout the ‎village. ‎

‎“We’ve staged demonstrations and blocked the agricultural road ‎to draw attention to the ongoing lack of butane gas cylinders,” ‎said village resident Mohamed Abd El-Shafei, a member of the ‎popular committee that organised the campaign. ‎

A sizeable portion of the Egyptian public, especially in rural ‎areas, relies heavily on butane gas – which has been ‎traditionally subsidised by the state – for most of their cooking ‎and heating needs.‎

According to Abd El-Shafei, village residents decided to launch ‎the anti-voting campaign several days ago. The village of Beni ‎Idris boasts some 10,000 denizens, of which roughly 4,600 are ‎registered voters.‎

Popular committee member Bassem Marzouk stressed that the ‎campaign was not directed against a specific political group, but ‎rather against the ongoing shortage of badly needed butane ‎gas.‎

Committee member Makrem Abd El-Salam complained that –‎despite promises from the Assiut governor, supply ministry ‎officials and municipal council representatives that the problem ‎would be solved shortly – no action has yet been taken on the ‎issue.‎

According to Abd El-Salam, gas canister prices on the local ‎market have reached a whopping LE50 (roughly $8.30) each. ‎They had previously been available for no more than LE10.‎

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