News / Middle East

    Egyptians Outraged Over Presidential Poll Results

    Protesters shout during a demonstration against presidential candidates Mohamed Morsi and Ahmed Shafiq at Tahrir Square in Cairo May 28, 2012.Protesters shout during a demonstration against presidential candidates Mohamed Morsi and Ahmed Shafiq at Tahrir Square in Cairo May 28, 2012.
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    Protesters shout during a demonstration against presidential candidates Mohamed Morsi and Ahmed Shafiq at Tahrir Square in Cairo May 28, 2012.
    Protesters shout during a demonstration against presidential candidates Mohamed Morsi and Ahmed Shafiq at Tahrir Square in Cairo May 28, 2012.
    Stephanie Figgins
    CAIRO - Mohamed Ibrahim el-Sayyed, 42, lost a lot to Egypt’s revolution - his brother was killed during the initial 18-day uprising that led to former president Hosni Mubarak’s ouster, and his son was killed in one of the many bouts of clashes between protesters and police that have marked the post-Mubarak transitional period. So when el-Sayyed heard that the Supreme Presidential Electoral Commission (SPEC) had rejected all appeals challenging last week’s election results, thus pitting Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohamed Morsi and Mubarak minister Ahmed Shafiq against each other in the runoff, he came straight to Cairo’s Tahrir Square.
     
    “Disqualify Shafiq!” he chanted, raising his shoe in the air. El-Sayyed, who voted for Nasserist candidate Hamdeen Sabahi in the country’s first post-Mubarak presidential elections, said that Egypt would not tolerate a return of the old regime. He was joined in Tahrir by hundreds of other Egyptians enraged by the realization of what many called the “nightmare scenario:” a contest for the country’s top post being played out between an Islamist and a felul, or “remnant” of the old regime, thus sidelining more secular, independent forces.

    Video of protesters, including el-Sayyed (first ten seconds):
     
    Demonstrators chanted slogans against Shafiq, Morsi, and the currently ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), and held signs bearing the crossed-out faces of the top two presidential contenders.
     
    Among the protesters was Khaled Ali, himself a contender in the election’s first round and champion of leftists and liberals, who took just half of one percent of votes.
     
    In addition to peacefully demonstrating in Tahrir, protesters reportedly cut off power to two buildings with Shafiq billboards, chanting, “Lights out for Shafiq,” and set fire to Shafiq’s campaign headquarters in the Cairo neighborhood of Dokki.
     
    Posters of Eygptian presidential candidate Ahmed Shafiq defaced outside his Cairo headquarters, May 29, 2012. (Elizabeth Arrott/VOA)Posters of Eygptian presidential candidate Ahmed Shafiq defaced outside his Cairo headquarters, May 29, 2012. (Elizabeth Arrott/VOA)
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    Posters of Eygptian presidential candidate Ahmed Shafiq defaced outside his Cairo headquarters, May 29, 2012. (Elizabeth Arrott/VOA)
    Posters of Eygptian presidential candidate Ahmed Shafiq defaced outside his Cairo headquarters, May 29, 2012. (Elizabeth Arrott/VOA)
    As early as last Friday, voters knew that Morsi and Shafiq would likely face each other in the runoff. However, after runner-up candidates registered appeals with the SPEC, many Egyptians held their breath for a different outcome. The appeals cited allegations that names were added to the voting rolls and that hundreds of thousands of policemen and soldiers – who are not allowed to vote in national elections - unlawfully received voter registration cards, and then were pressured into voting for Shafiq.
     
    Demonstrators said that none of these claims were seriously investigated.
     
    In its announcement Monday, the SPEC simply reaffirmed that Morsi had come in first place with 24.78 percent of the vote and Shafiq in second place with 23.66 percent. Following behind were Hamdeen Sabahi, moderate Islamist Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh, and former Arab League head Amr Moussa.
     
    Campaign paraphernalia scattered after protesters are said to have stormed Ahmed Shafiq's headquarters in Cairo, May 29, 2012. (Elizabeth Arrott/VOA)Campaign paraphernalia scattered after protesters are said to have stormed Ahmed Shafiq's headquarters in Cairo, May 29, 2012. (Elizabeth Arrott/VOA)
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    Campaign paraphernalia scattered after protesters are said to have stormed Ahmed Shafiq's headquarters in Cairo, May 29, 2012. (Elizabeth Arrott/VOA)
    Campaign paraphernalia scattered after protesters are said to have stormed Ahmed Shafiq's headquarters in Cairo, May 29, 2012. (Elizabeth Arrott/VOA)
    Free and fair elections?
     
    Election monitors, including the U.S.-based Carter Center, gave the voting and counting process generally positive marks. But for many in Tahrir, whether or not there was massive fraud or only minor violations is beside the point.  As the Carter Center noted, a bigger cause for concern was “the broader context in which these elections were held.” Most notably, the highly controversial Article 28 of the SCAF-issued Constitutional Declaration makes all decisions by the SPEC final and immune from appeal. Issandr el-Amrani, who blogs as The Arabist, wrote,  “[the SPEC’s] ruling is not appealable, it has a past record of dubious decisions, and it behaved suspiciously by distributing last minute supplementary voter lists and blocking access to observers to counting rooms. The [S]PEC had no credibility even before the vote was cast."
     
    In addition to grievances against the SPEC, the Carter Center cited the never suspended Emergency Law, which “continues to stifle democratic debate [and hinder] the full enjoyment of electoral rights,” as a barrier to holding free and fair elections.
     
    The fire at Shafiq headquarters in Cairo was confined to a garage out back. (Elizabeth Arrott/VOA)The fire at Shafiq headquarters in Cairo was confined to a garage out back. (Elizabeth Arrott/VOA)
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    The fire at Shafiq headquarters in Cairo was confined to a garage out back. (Elizabeth Arrott/VOA)
    The fire at Shafiq headquarters in Cairo was confined to a garage out back. (Elizabeth Arrott/VOA)
    Others in Tahrir lamented how elections could even he held under military rule. Mostafa Salah, 22, said the people should have demanded a civilian caretaker government to oversee the electoral process, to ensure that the military would not rig the process in order to protect its own interests.
     
    Where to go from here
     
    On how to move forward, the mood in Tahrir was divisive: some demonstrators said that faced with such an impossible choice, they would boycott the second round of elections. Some said that although they do not want an Islamist government, they would vote for Morsi just to keep the old guard out of power, while others said the opposite: despite Shafiq’s shadowy past, they would do anything to keep the Islamists from having control of both the legislative and executive branches of government.
     
    Still others maintain that street politics are the best route. Some activists called for a million-man march to take place on Tuesday. “The streets are the answer,” tweeted well-known activist Ahmed Aggour, known as “Psypherize”. Aggour supports a boycott of the next round of elections, and predicted that Egyptians would come out into the streets en masse and hold another “Friday of Rage,” a reference to a key day in the 18-day uprising which ousted Mubarak a year and a half ago.

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    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: henry
    May 30, 2012 6:51 PM
    Only Israel is free from islam

    by: Faraja Amri Sa-rang Lacey from: DRCongo, Goma.
    May 30, 2012 9:15 AM
    Dear, Egyptians.
    We all are africans and proud of the african blood running our veins.
    Can't U please leave ur individual interests and work for a common and lifesaving final decision? A man can be having acted wrong previously but having eyewitnessed for what happened to his predecessor, he can be wise acting to evoid the same. Egypt is our miror in Africa, don't transform in an undesirable country. Together, yes U can built a better nation.

    by: Isisholdson2afadingflower from: Cairo
    May 30, 2012 5:01 AM
    we are cursed! I agree with Sandman that the Muslim Brotherhood nor Shafik should have been banned from running for presidential election. The ideal thing would be to get rid of them both. I'm a Muslim but The Muslim Brotherhood are very violent, The ideal would be to get rid of Shafik and the MB maybe through protest. But if this not possible the MB will do the exact same thing Shafik would do and on top of this they will persecute Christian and encourage violence towards women. The Muslim Brotherhood carried out many terrorist attacks in the past, they have their own long established military, they have accused the whole Egyptian society of being heretics before, and they used the infidel argument to justify killing anyone who opposes them.

    by: bigdan from: LAX
    May 29, 2012 10:37 PM
    Wow, Egypt is screwed.

    by: el sufi from: California
    May 29, 2012 5:25 PM
    Poor Egypt...the more it changes the more it's the same thing.
    Poverty, ignorance, religious fanaticism, relegating women to the level of chattel......what can one expect.... a nation of slaves...to Pharaos, foreign domination, local dictators, the military, militant fundamentalist Islam..... will it ever change?...not in this century! .

    by: James from: USA
    May 29, 2012 4:31 PM
    Will the Middle East ever have peace? Ever? Its been how many thousands of years? I feel bad for all those people just trying to live a free and happy life.

    by: Hedonikos from: USA
    May 29, 2012 3:51 PM
    I think you pretty much summed it up Sandman. It is unfortunate that a proud people like Egyptians cannot be allowed to bring themselves out of the Dark Ages. As with any theology, it is always better to brainwash and control the masses than to have them become enlightened by truth and intelligence. If the Brotherhood makes claims about a more free society, the masses will buy into it because it is all they know. I can say with certainty that once they are in power, you can kiss true freedom goodbye. They are lying.

    by: Sandman
    May 29, 2012 2:36 PM
    Both candidates are a disgrace to the Egyptian revolution. Like a bad addiction to drugs or alchohol, Egyptian society must hit rock bottom and purge itself from corruption and religious extremism. On the one hand Ahmed Shafiq represents the old regime, abusive power and corruption. On the other we have the Islamist Mohammed Morsi who represents a potentially very radical form of Islam.

    Both are disgusting and should have NEVER been put up for president. Egyptian society is largely to blame as well for their sheer ignorance. If so many Egyptians want these two candidates, then they must live in the house they have built for themselves.

    Until then, educated citizens of Egypt can only forge ahead to educate the masses any way they can. A successful democracy requires an educated populace, which Egypt obviously does not yet have.


    by: Phil from: KY
    May 29, 2012 2:23 PM
    You think Mubarak was bad, wait until The Muslim Brotherhood takes over

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