• 06:02
  • Friday ,25 May 2012
العربية

Election bribes and boycotts outside of Cairo

By-Almasry Alyoum

Home News

00:05

Friday ,25 May 2012

Election bribes and boycotts outside of Cairo

4:00 pm: A supporter of Freedom and Justice Party presidential candidate Mohamed Morsy was distributing meat and sugar to voters in Qena Governorate, according to election monitors with the Hurra Naziha Coalition.

In a statement issued on Thursday, the coalition says its observers saw Morsy supporter Abu Bakr al-Qady distributing meat, sugar, beans, lentils and oil to voters in the Khuzam village in Qena.
 
In Marsa Matrouh, a Shafiq supporter was arrested and accused of distributing money to voters.
 
The Hurra Naziha Coalition is an independent committee of 70 associations that is monitoring polling stations nationwide.
 
Residents of two villages in Assiut continue their boycott of the election on its second day to protest shortages of bread and butane cylinders.
 
Attempts by Mostafa Tareq, the head of Qosseya City Council, have failed to persuade the residents of the villages of Bani Edris and Monshaal Soghra in the township of Qosseya to end their boycott.
 
Some residents raise banners reading, "We are boycotting the election for a better life."
 
3:30 pm: Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim says his ministry has received a tip that some forces are planning to riot outside polling stations in order to spoil the electoral process and intimidate people from voting.
 
After voting Thursday at a kindergarten school in Giza, Ibrahim says that the police are ready to confront all attempts to hinder the electoral process.
 
Any such attempts, he says, will be dealt with using "an iron hand."
 
Ibrahim says the ministry also has contingency plans to confront possible reactions to the election results. Some political groups have threatened to take to the streets if a Mubarak regime member wins either the preliminary or runoff election round.
 
The Interior Ministry is responsible for securing the voting and counting process, he said.
 
In the Upper Egyptian town of Beni Suef, members of former President Hosni Mubarak's now-dissolved National Democratic Party gathered to rally in support for Ahmed Shafiq.
 
The liberal Wafd Party reported on its website that former NDP members prevented voters not supporting Shafiq from entering polling stations in the towns of Fashn, Beni Suef, Nasser and Wasty, leading to conflicts among voters.
 
In Beni Suef’s Terment al-Sharqiya village, Shafiq campaigners and former city council members prevented supporters of religious parties from entering the polling station by lining up and creating a physical barrier.
 
3:00 pm: Former Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa's campaigners announced on their official Twitter account that Moussa is waiting for former Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq to pull out of the presidential race for the sake of boosting Moussa's chances. In response, the official Shafiq campaign Twitter account said: “It seems that Mr. Amr Moussa is suffering from electoral hallucinations.”
 
Observers say Moussa, also a former foreign minister, and Shafiq are targeting the same portion of Egypt's electorate. Their constituency consists primarily of Egyptians who prefer a former statesman, regardless of his ties with the Mubarak regime, hoping he can bring stability.
 
2:30 pm: Turnout appears low in Arish, the capital of North Sinai Governorate. Many voters say they are supporting Shafiq and Moussa, both former regime figures campaigning on security platforms, because the area has seen much tribal fighting and attacks on security forces in the past year. Some voters hope that one of these two candidates will be able to restore security and stability.
 
Army and police are making a strong showing in Arish. At one polling station, security forces outnumbered voters as helicopters roamed the sky.
 
“Turnout has not been strong yet. I would say it's not more than 20 percent. It’s mostly old people,” says Qotb al-Shalakany, a judge at a polling station at Yasser Primary School in Arish. “Things have been very calm and everyone is committed to making sure the process is smooth, including candidates' representatives and voters. At the beginning we were afraid to come and work here because of the violence that has marred the area recently. But we're happy it's all under control.”
 
Ahmad Mohamed Sabry, who is representing Shafiq at the same polling station, sits in a corner of the station alongside other candidate representatives.
 
“Everything has been normal so far. There are a lot of elderly who come to cast their votes and many of them are illiterate,” Saby says. “But as you saw, the judge is the only person who helps them out by taking them to the side, asking them who they want to vote for and showing them on the list where their candidate is. The voters are the ones who cast their ballot even if they don't read and write.”
 
A very old woman enters the polling station and is helped by the judge to the ballots. The judge asks her, "Who do you want to give your vote to, mother?”
 
“Shafiq,” she says. And then he shows her and she casts her ballot.
 
Mostafa al-Atrash, 35, lives in central Sinai, a remote, rural area, but is registered to vote in Arish. Before the revolution, he says, many Bedouin tribesmen from central Sinai would dread coming to the city because of tensions with the security forces, but he feels differently now.
 
“Now we confidently come to Arish to vote and even go to Cairo. Before, people used to be arbitrarily arrested,” he says. Atrash believes that Moussa has the most to offer Sinai, in part because he is not too tough on Israel, which Atrash believes will keep the border area where he lives more secure. “We’ll pay the price here if any candidate decides to antagonize Israel,” he says.
 
Conversely, Hamed Mohamed Awad, 70, says he is voting for Moussa but would also be happy with Shafiq because “they are the only ones who can protect Sinai from Israel.”
 
Ahmad Moussa, 28, interrupts and says, "These are the choices of the elderly." He will vote for Abdel Moneim Abouel Fotouh.
 
“Will Abouel Fotouh bring you gas and fuel for your motorbike everyday?” Awad asks, referring to a rampant shortages in the area.
 
"No feloul can solve my problems,” Moussa says.
 
2:00 pm: The Presidential Elections Commission has extended voting hours until 9 pm to allow as many people as possible to cast their ballots, according to Al-Masry Al-Youm.
 
An official source from the commission says ballot counting will begin half an hour after the vote ends. Vote counting will be conducted at the polling stations in the presence of candidates' representatives, the media and NGOs.
 
In Boulaq Abul Ela, the army presence is heavy at the Industrial Technical Institute polling station on Sahafa Street. The army is helping people find their names and voting numbers on a white sheet outside the station, and is doing the same inside the voting room. At one point, army officers insist on watching over an Egypt Independent reporter's interviews with voters.
 
Most people are reluctant to say who they voted for, with many saying "That's a secret" or "It's between me and God."
 
Ahmed Adham, 27, is one of the few comfortable enough to say he voted for Hamdeen Sabbahi.
 
"He's a just man," Adham says of Sabbahi. "I want a president that will feel for the army and the poor man that can't find enough food to eat."
 
Hamdeen won't be against the army, he says. "Who is the army? He's my brother, your brother, your cousin. But the sects that have emerged — the Brotherhood, Salafis — where were they during Mubarak's days? I never heard of them before. We are Muslims, not Brotherhood [members] or Salafis."
 
Mustafa Eid, 42, says: "I want the military to keep a hold of the country."
 
He adds: "We need someone to get us out of the situation we're in. I dont know the Islamists; they are not honest. We want someone from the country, who knows the country — not just here inside, but also outside."
 
But he won't say who he voted for.
 
In Mahalla, many more women are voting than men. The overall turnout is mediocre.
 
Outside Hoda Sharawy School, Ahmed Shawky says Freedom and Justice Party youths with laptops outside polling stations "are not campaigning for Dr. [Mohamed] Morsy."
 
"As you can see, they are using blank slips of paper — not campaign cards," he says.
 
Elsewhere, though, Morsy and Abouel Fotouh campaigners are openly using campaign cards to help their candidates.
 
1:30 pm: In Alexandria, Islamist supporters gather outside of a polling station in the neighborhood of Agamy to try to persuade voters not to back candidates from former President Hosni Mubarak’s regime. At two polling stations nearby, Egypt Independent witnessed supporters of Morsy, engaging in campaign activity, which is illegal.
 
Not everyone in Alexandria is supporting Islamists or opposed to Mubarak regime figures, however. Mohamed Hassan, 20, says: “I will not vote for Islamists in the presidential election; they offered us nothing through the Parliament where they garnered a majority of seats. I will vote for Amr Moussa because he has experience.”
 
In the Nile Delta governorate of Monufiya, the birthplace of Mubarak, a representative for Shafiq, Mubarak’s last prime minister, slapped a representative of moderate Islamist Abouel Fotouh at a polling station. The judge supervising the station, Ahmed Mossad al-Dardiry, filed a complaint against Abdel Qader Abdel Hamid, 73, for slapping Ali Mohamed Wageeh, 25.
 
In Suez, military forces are playing nationalist songs through loudspeakers outside the Suez Old Preparatory School for Girls and distributing cards bearing the three colors of Egypt's flags that read, “The armed forces and the people want to elect a president.”
 
The Egyptian Assembly for Supporting Democratic Development's coordinator Amira Ayad says a loudspeaker in a street leading to 24 October School was playing Morsy campaign songs. Medhat Khater, head of the Interior Ministry's operations room, says as of 12 pm, he has not received any complaints of violations at all Suez polling stations. He also says that turnout in Suez on Wednesday was between 20 and 25 percent.
 
12:30 pm: A citizen named Saleh Abul Magd Ahmed died at a polling station in the Cairo district of Zaher before he could cast his vote on Thursday.
 
The Interior Ministry’s operations room says Ahmed felt ill while searching for his name in the voting lists at the Galaa School polling station.
 
An ambulance was called to take him to the hospital but the man, aged 72, died before arriving at the hospital.
 
In Senores, Fayoum, the judge at a near-empty polling station says that the risk of fraud is "zero." He says the danger of fraud comes from unused ballots, and that this risk is non-existent because tonight unused ballots will be put in a sealed box and delivered to the Presidential Elections Commission by the army.
 
At a polling station in Boulaq Abul Ela, there is a steady flow of voters. Army officers are helping people find their names and voter ID numbers.
 
12:00 pm: Maryan Girguis Saad, a Coptic voter in North Cairo, just cast her ballot for Shafiq, per the direction of Coptic Church leaders.
 
“The church priest and monks gave [us] instructions on Wednesday to vote for Shafiq, as they consider him the best candidate,” she says.
 
In a report issued Thursday, the Justice and Development Center for Human Rights says the largest violation Wednesday was the use of children in campaigning for Morsy and Abouel Fotouh.
 
The report says the children were seen distributing photos of the two candidates in front of polling stations in Mallawi.
 
In Fayoum, Mahmoud Ahmed says he voted for Hamdeen Sabbahi, though he isn't sure if he would make it to the runoff phase.
 
"I like his program and he cares about the poor. But in the second round I'll vote for Abouel Fotouh if Hamdeen is knocked out of the race," Ahmed says. "I'm not convinced by Morsy because if he is elected I don't think it's him who'll make the decisions."
 
11:30 am: In Alexandria, naval authorities ban presidential campaigners from standing in front of polling stations with their laptops. Military forces also remove posters of Abouel Fotouh and Morsy that were hung overnight.
 
In Helwan and the 15th of May area, polling stations are calm. A big tent is set up to shade voters as temperatures climb.
 
State-run newspaper Al-Ahram reports that polling stations in Luxor city seeing moderate turnout, but that few voters are going to the polls in the cities of Isna and Arment.  
 
In the Mohandisseen neighborhood of Cairo, a few polling stations appear deserted aside from the police and army forces standing guard.
 
Mostafa, 24, voted with his mother Mona at Awkaf Preparatory School in Mohandisseen. He cast his vote for Abouel Fotouh, while his mother voted for Morsy.
 
"As long as people actually come out to vote, things should be fine because in the end, the people will have gotten what they want," he says. "It's not voting at this point that's stupid."
 
A report from the election monitor the One World Foundation for Development and Civil Society says some campaigns have tried to illegally influence voters.
In the Mousha village in the township of Assiut, the foundation reports that voters at the Mousha Primary School were told to choose Morsy.
 
In Assiut, Giza, and Daqahlia, the organization says that campaign vehicles for Shafiq, Morsy, and Abouel Fotouh were transporting voters to the polls.
 
11:00 am: Turnout remains relatively low throughout mid-morning. Some polling stations in the Cairo neighborhood of Dar al-Salaam have lines while others are nearly empty.
 
"The preliminary sorting of Wednesday was in favor of Mohamed Morsy and Ahmed Shafiq," a Freedom and Justice Party representative in Dar al-Salaam told Al-Masry Al-Youm, though he declined to say how he had reached that conclusion.
 
The government has announced that ballot counting will begin Thursday evening, but several campaigns have announced speculative preliminary exit polls.
 
In Minya, an Egypt Independent correspondent reports polling stations are seeing a trickle of voters this morning, similar to the slow start seen yesterday.  
 
9:00 am: Over an hour after the polls open, many stations in Cairo appear to have no or very short lines, Egypt Independent correspondents report.
 
The Interior Ministry also said Thursday that all filled ballot boxes are being kept under tight security. Yesterday, judges supervising elections sealed the boxes and signed each box after the polls closed.
 
8:00 am: Polling stations officially open for the second day of presidential elections. State TV reports that voters started queuing before the official 8 am start. Voting hours were extended by one hour due to a surge in turnout, which Secretary General Hatem Bagato of the Presidential Elections Commission said was “magnificent and more than expected.”