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Kefaya Movement Stages Anniversary of Egyptian-Election Protest

  • Karem Sa'id

The Egyptian political movement Kefaya, meaning "Enough" in English, staged a march through the streets of downtown Cairo on Monday, the anniversary of their first protest one-year ago. The group protested the violence used to prevent Egyptians from voting during the recent parliamentary elections.

Hundreds of Kefaya members gathered at the Egyptian Supreme Court building to declare the death of democracy in Egypt. The courthouse is the site of the original Kefaya protest, a year ago to the day, which called for democratic presidential elections.

This year, protesters marched through the streets of downtown Cairo, slowly moving toward the interior and justice ministries, which Keyfaya charges are responsible for widespread corruption and violence at polling stations.

Kefaya coordinator Ahmed Saleh said the elections were marked by rigging and thuggery.

"We had police firing live ammunition against civilians," said Ahmed Saleh. "They [officials] closed most of the polling stations where you have opposition, so that no opposition voice can get to the parliament. People were trying all kinds of tricks to get into the polling stations, even using ladders. They were fighting a street war just to be able to vote."

A few marchers carried a coffin-shaped box draped in black to symbolize the state of democracy in Egypt, while other marchers were hoisted above the crowd so they could lead chants. They sang the national anthem with new words: Kefaya, Kefaya, Kefaya. Every tyrant has an end.

Kefaya condemns the martial law, enacted by President Hosni Mubarak in 1981, that is used to jail dissidents - sometimes for years - without charging them. Mr. Mubarak was elected to his sixth term in September.

The recent parliamentary elections revealed unexpected support for Muslim Brotherhood candidates, who gained at least 88 seats, despite a government crackdown on the group's strongholds before and during the election. The Muslim Brotherhood has been banned by Egypt's government and its candidates avoided the ban by running as independents.

Mr. Saleh said the Kefaya protest would remind Egyptians of the 10 or more people who were killed during the parliamentary elections.

"We are not going to shut up, and if they want to kill us, they will have to kill us like they killed the others," he said. "But we are not going to stop until we make a change in this country and until we have a real democracy and freedom."

Egypt's interior ministry denied that security forces interfered in the electoral process.

People watched the protest from balconies above the street and on sidewalks, while some joined the Kefaya march as it passed by.

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