Rights groups report electoral violations by Abul-Fotouh, Morsi, Shafiq campaigns

Ahram Online , Thursday 24 May 2012

Local human rights organisations report limited electoral violations countrywide - especially vote buying - by campaigners for Egypt's three presidential frontrunners

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Voter sits under posters of presidential candidate Abdel Moneim Abul-Fotouh during presidential elections in Cairo, Thursday (Photo: Reuters)

The Egyptian Organisation for Human Rights (EOHR) issued a report on Thursday afternoon detailing alleged electoral breaches – namely vote buying – in seven governorates by campaigners for presidential candidates Mohamed Morsi, Ahmed Shafiq and Abdel-Moneim Abul-Fotouh.

The EOHR alleges that votes were sold for prices ranging from LE50 to LE150 in the governorates of Alexandria, Marsa Matrouh, Sharqiya, Giza, Cairo, Qena and West Fayoum.

Also on Thursday, the second day of voting in Egypt’s two-day presidential election, the Egyptian Alliance for Electoral Monitoring (EAEM) issued its fourth complaint to the Supreme Presidential Elections Commission (SPEC) – the official body overseeing the electoral process – over alleged violations.     

In the coastal city of Alexandria, EAEM officials reported incidents of vote buying by Abul-Fotouh campaigners – at LE100 per vote – in the Sidi Gaber district. Campaigners for Nasserist candidate Hamdeen Sabbahi reportedly filed a complaint over the incident.

In the neighbouring governorate of Marsa Matruh, meanwhile, a Shafiq campaigner, reportedly accused of purchasing votes, was arrested by military personnel.

Similar breaches by campaigners for Shafiq, who has emerged as one of the race’s frontrunners, were also reported in the Delta governorate of Sharqiya.  

The same governorate also saw incidents of vote buying by Morsi and Aboul-Fotouh campaigners, the EOHR alleged.

According to EOHR President Hafez Abu-Saeda, such violations represent a clear infringement of Egypt’s law on political rights (73/1956), which calls for a one-year jail sentence and a fine of LE10,000 to LE100,000 for anyone found guilty of the practice.

According to the Cairo-based Arab Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI), campaigners for Morsi and Shafiq were caught trying to influence voters in the south Delta governorate of Menoufiya.

ANHRI alleged that large-scale campaigning for Morsi was still underway – a clear violation of the ban on last-minute campaigning – in Cairo, Qalioubiya, Gharbiya, Beni Suef and the Upper Egyptian Aswan governorate.

Campaigners for Morsi, Abul-Fotouh and ex-Arab League chief Amr Moussa have also reportedly been caught promoting their candidates via megaphone in certain areas of Alexandria in violation of electoral regulations.

Limited incidents of violence, meanwhile, have been reported in the northern port city of Damietta between Morsi and Moussa supporters. Brawls were also reported in Sabbahi’s hometown of Kafr Al-Sheikh between his supporters and security personnel over campaign advertisements outside polling stations.

ANHRI also reported that Sabbahi and Moussa supporters had engaged in limited clashes in Kafr Al-Sheikh.

Egypt’s first post-Mubarak presidential poll has been underway since Wednesday morning. Polling stations are set to close on Thursday at 9pm local time.

Total voter turnout for both days of polling was roughly 50 per cent, according to preliminary estimates by the SPEC. Final results are slated to be announced on 29 May. 

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