SPEC members in press conference (Photo: Hashem Abou Elamayem)
Secretary-general of Egypt's Supreme Presidential Electoral Commission (SPEC) Hatem Bagato on Wednesday evening commended all Egyptian presidential candidates for the limited number of electoral breaches reported on the first day of the country's first post-Mubarak presidential polls, compared to those seen in parliamentary elections conducted late last year.
Speaking at a press conference held as the first day of voting drew to a close, Bagato declined to provide preliminary turnout figures, merely saying that the day had passed peacefully with "minimum problems."
He went on to say that the SPEC had received three formal complaints about alleged electoral violations committed during the day, noting that the alleged breaches had been referred to Egypt's public prosecutor for investigation.
Bagato also denied claims that elections had cost the state some LE100 million, stressing that Egypt's presidential election had been much less expensive than its parliamentary counterpart late last year.
Answering complaints that voters' registration numbers in some districts had been arbitrarily changed, leading to a degree of confusion at polling stations on Wednesday, he said that the locations of some stations had been changed at the last minute for security or logistical reasons.
"The life of a single citizen is worth more to me than the entire electoral process," he stressed to reporters.
As for complaints voiced by some international observers that they had not been given enough time inside polling stations, Bagato explained that these observers were not fully aware of conditions in Egypt.
"A third-world country, Egypt has problems in terms of the sizes of polling stations," he said. "Classrooms are small, and therefore can't host large numbers of observers, voters and administrators at the same time."
Bagato also dismissed complaints by certain reporters who claimed that some of the judges overseeing the polling had interfered with voters' decisions.
"Egyptian judges are the ones who oversaw parliamentary polling under Mubarak, which resulted in opposition parties winning seats in the assembly," he said. "I doubt these judges will forsake their responsibilities now."