News / Middle East

Violence, Voting Irregularities Mar Egyptian Elections

Banners blanketed parts of Cairo, although voter interest appeared as slight as in recent years, 22 Nov 2010
Banners blanketed parts of Cairo, although voter interest appeared as slight as in recent years,  22 Nov 2010 
Elizabeth Arrott

Egyptians took part in parliamentary elections that many feel will bring little change to a country dominated by the National Democratic Party for the past three decades.   But accusations of voting irregularities and reports of violence have raised additional concerns, as the vote is widely considered a dry-run for next year's presidential election.   

Judging just by the noise level, the ruling National Democratic Party appears confident of a strong showing.

In interview after interview with voters trying to explain their support for the opposition, NDP supporters gathered around, their chanting drowning out the words of others.

But noise is just one factor.   A member of the Muslim Brotherhood, the banned Islamic organization, which can run candidates as independents, said that one of the group's candidates in Alexandria was attacked.

The Brotherhood member, known to VOA, but who preferred not to use his name, said the candidate was beaten by a group of men he described as "NDP" thugs. There has been no official word on his condition or whether his attackers have been caught. There was no immediate response from the NDP to the allegations.

Egypt Votes

  • Egypt's Population: 80+ million
  • Parliament has 508 elected members, 10 appointed by president
  • Two PMs represent each of the 254 constituencies
  • A candidate needs more than 50% of the votes to win a five-year term

Other scattered violence, some said to be by security toward opposition groups, has been reported across the country.

The opposition appears to be facing some disadvantages on a more purely technical level, for example, election monitoring.  The government promised all contestants and their representatives they could observe the voting process.  The government promised a free and fair election.

Reda Shaban is a representative of a member of the Muslim Brotherhood running as an independent candidate.  Speaking at  polling station in Helwan, just south of Cairo, Shaban said he found himself confronted by security guards, who said he needed additional approval from the local police.  He said the police turned down his request, while NDP representatives were given the proper paperwork.

Photos by VOA's Elizabeth Arrott

Likewise the media, which had been touted by the government as guarantors of a fair election - and an argument against international monitors, found their access limited. Despite proper accreditation, this reporter was barred from filming inside a polling station, and instructed to "monitor with your eyes."  

Voting at one station mid-day was light, with only nine ballots seen through the glass voting box.  Later, in another district, the count was less clear, as the glass had been covered with an opaque plastic coating.   A woman who quietly introduced herself as an independent monitor said she had seen 15 votes cast since the polls had opened, in a district where some 1,000 people are registered to vote.

Authorities say official voter turnout will be released Tuesday, one day after the winners are announced.

Tarek Zaghloul, director of the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights, believes these are only the start of the problems.  Zaghloul said the most violated persons are the voters themselves.  The voter who goes to cast his vote confronts many violations, he says, including being told the officially guaranteed national identification card was, as of voting day, no longer proof enough to vote.  He said others simply couldn't find their names on the voting rolls at all.  

Hala Mustafa, editor of the magazine Democracy, says years of these procedures have taken their toll. "Most of the people lost interest in the elections as a tool for change, for political change.  And, also, I cannot eliminate the factor of the middle class in Egypt. And, I think this class, which gave a kind of political vitality to the society, has been deteriorating for the last two or three decades, and I think this affects negatively the political participation," he said.

She says it is easier to "recruit and mobilize" people in the rural areas.  But that, she says, is beside the point. "I think the only importance of the parliamentary elections this year is for the ruling party to have the overwhelming majority in order to prepare for the presidential elections the next year.  So, this is all I think the whole elections is all about," she said.

Few doubt that the National Democratic Party will hold on to its dominant position again this year.  But next year could possibly be another story.

No candidate has officially declared candidacy for president.  Current President Hosni Mubarak, in power for nearly 30 years, has not ruled out another run, but he is 82 and has suffered health problems this year.   

His son, Gamal Mubarak, a prominent figure in the NDP, is widely seen as being groomed as an eventual replacement.  Given that Gamal is not running for parliament, the number of banners around town these days promoting his political future have only helped that speculation grow.

NEW: Follow our Middle East stories on Twitter
and discuss them on our Facebook page. Right now, we're focusing on events and issues related to the election in Egypt. We want to know what you think about them. Let your voice be heard.

You May Like

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More