PERHAPS seeking to induce a public averse to political participation to be more politically engaged, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on Friday called on the electorate in his country to cast their votes in the upcoming Shura Council elections to bring about what he called “democracy and the aspirations of the people of Egypt”
Mubarak asked voters to freely pick the candidates of their choice for Parliament and public service, including the candidate to the presidency himself.
“The men and the women of this country need to be politicallyengaged,” He said. “They need to do this because they alone have the right to choose and build their own country,” he added in a message read out on his behalf by the ruling National Democratic Party’s Secretary-General Safwat el-Sherif.
This is one of many occasions on which Mubarak tried to induce the electorate not to drop their right to choose their candidates in Parliament, observers say.
Despite this, Egypt’s elections have never seen what can be termed “high turnout”, they add.
The presidential elections of 2005, Egypt’s first contested polls ever, saw a fraction of illegible voters (almost 7 million out of a total number of 34 million voters) showing up in front of ballot boxes.
The Parliamentary elections that followed a few months later saw similarly meagre participation from the electorate, but they were marred by violence and vote-rigging, election monitoring groups say.
This year, 30 million people have the right to cast their votes to pick 88 new members in the mid-term elections of the Upper House of the Egyptian Parliament on Tuesday.
El-Sherif, who is also the Chairman of the Shura Council, was addressing alarge number of NDP followers during an NDP campaigning rally Friday night outside the historical Abdeen Palace east of Cairo.
He said the candidates of the ruling party would be united in their desire to make the elections transparent.
But he did not let the chance go without pouring some criticism on the banned organisation the Muslim Brotherhood.
He lashed out at the Brotherhood’s use of religious slogans to lure voters in a country where many think of religion as unquestionable.
“Our candidates don’t mix religion with politics,” el-Sherif said. “Neither do they pay bribes to convince people to vote for them,” he added.
As he spoke, hundreds of Brotherhood supporters organised a march on the streets of the Nile Delta Governorate of Daqahlia, about 100 kilometres north of Cairo, in support of Brotherhood candidates in the elections.
The Brotherhood, whose candidates run in general elections as independents, has fielded 14 candidates in the elections.