Egypt: Parliamentary elections underway amid irregularities
Published on Tue, 2011-11-29 08:54
Egypt is holding the first phase of the parliamentary elections since Monday, in spite of the claims and recommendations to postpone them issued by political parties and civil society organizations, among them the Egyptian Association for Community Participation Enhancement (EACPE), focal point of Social Watch in this country.
“The elections got underway on 28 Nov as scheduled, in spite of political turmoil and further deteriorating security in Egypt in the wake of severe clashes that took place between protesters and Central Security Forces, and lasted for days in Tahrir Square and surrounding streets this month,” reported Al Ahram Online. “Last week’s bloody clashes, which saw over 40 killed and several thousand injured, significantly intensified revolutionaries’ calls for the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) to immediately hand over power to a national salvation government” and to postpone the polls.
On Monday, Ahmed Fawzy, from EACPE, told Al-Masry Al-Youm daily newspaper that ballots had not yet been delivered to some polling stations in Assiut and Fayoum. He also said that some ballot papers didn’t have the proper stamps, which would facilitate rigging the vote. Voters at one of the polling stations in Ramses staged a protest chanting "Invalid, invalid" after they found that the ballot papers were not stamped, he added.
Fawzy added that the High Elections Commission has always said it is well-prepared for the election, but what is actually happening is the opposite. He also complained about "the complete absence" of security forces despite reassurances by the interior minister and Field Marshal Tantawi who said that securing the election is his "personal responsibility."
In its second press release, the Independent Coalition for Elections Observation supported by EACPE warned that the first day of the process was “characterized by a good deal of violations such as distributing filled voting cards or applications in Kafr el Sheikh” in Cairo.
The Coalition also reported about irregularities in several governorates, as Alexandria, Fayoom, Kafr El Sheikh, Asiout, Luxor, Damiatta and Port Saeed.
After the clashes in Tahrir Square and other places, EACPE fiercely criticized the SCAF and the Higher Committee for Elections because they maintained that they were ready to hold the polls. “All of this is astonishing, and the question is: how the elections will be held in such unstable security conditions?,” questioned the organization in a press release.
Some of the candidates had decided to suspend their electoral campaigns, among them Gamila Ismail (Kasr AlNile district – Independent), George Ishak (Portsaid district – Independent), Amr Ezz (Imbaba district – Independent), Nasser Amin (Helwan district – Independent), Amr AlShobaky (Imbaba district – AlAdl party), Ali Ghazal (Imbaba district – Independent), Mohamed Abd AlGhany (Zatoon district – Egyptian block), according to the EACPE.
The first phase of parliamentary elections began on Monday. The second is scheduled Dec 14 and the third on Jan 13.
Some of the claims to postpone the process were pronounced by former Interior Minister Mansour El-Issawi; potential presidential candidates Abdullah Ashaal, Hisham Bastawisi and Hamdeen Sabbahi; some political parties as El-Tagaou, Arab Nasserite Party, People’s Alliance, Liberal Egyptians, Egyptian Alliance, Awareness, Egyptian Current and Al-Wafd; and civil society organizations as EACPE and the Egyptian Organization for Human Rightshe polls.
This report is based on data from the following sources: