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Egyptian Opposition Cries Foul Over Election


Early unofficial results from Egypt's landmark presidential election on Wednesday indicate a landslide win for President Hosni Mubarak. But one of the main opposition candidates is complaining of fraud and says he wants a revote.

Opposition candidate Ayman Nour says he plans to file a formal challenge to the election, citing what he says are widespread irregularities. He wants the entire poll to be run again.

Independent monitors say there were many problems on voting day, including voter intimidation by supporters of the ruling party, vote buying, abuse of government resources by the ruling party, and cases of outright fraud.

Questions about the election emerged before the final results were even announced. Early informal returns reported in the state press indicated a landslide victory for President Mubarak, which had been widely predicted.

A ruling party spokesman dismissed concerns about irregularities, calling them minor problems that did not affect the overall integrity of the vote.

Civic groups that monitored the election are also concerned about voter turnout, which by all accounts was extremely low. In a country with about 32 million registered voters, most polling stations had a steady trickle of voters throughout the day, and some at times stood totally empty except for poll workers. Voter apathy appeared to be widespread, despite the fact it was the country's first-ever contested presidential election.

In a crowded marketplace in the Cairo district of Bab el-Sheriya, a street vendor named Mohammed Abdelnabi explained why for him, feeding his family took precedence over voting.

"I wake up in the morning and come here to earn my bread," he said. "I do not care about the vote. The people in parliament never do anything for us."

President Hosni Mubarak has long been expected to win a fifth term by a landslide. The 77-year-old leader has been in power for 24 years, but this was the first time he faced competitors on the ballot.

Of his nine opponents, only two were seen as serious challengers. Mr. Nour of the Tomorrow Party and veteran opposition politician Noaman Gomaa of the Wafd Party.

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