Egyptian opposition voters face pitfalls, Muslim Brotherhood cries foul
(Photo: Posters of candidates of the banned Muslim Brotherhood in Alexandria, 27 Nov 2010/Goran Tomasevic)
It seemed too good to be true when Amira Antar walked into the polling station to vote for Egypt’s Islamist opposition, the Muslim Brotherhood, unimpeded by security forces or hired thugs. She quickly found out it was. After she made her choice, the polling station supervisor unfolded Antar’s ballot, ticked the candidate of President Hosni Mubarak’s ruling party and put her now spoiled paper in the box.
“I was standing at the door and I saw what he did and honestly my heart broke. I don’t know what to do or who to complain to. I don’t think I’m going to vote again,” said the 22-year-old, voting for the first time in a parliamentary poll. The Muslim Brotherhood, which is banned but allowed to run candidates as independents, says the vote is marred by mass violations including ballot stuffing and bullying. The government says it has ensured a free and fair election.
Events took a different turn at Sayeda Zainab school in Mahalla El Kubra where Muslim Brotherhood voters scuffled with security men trying to keep them out of the polling station. “Where is the democracy they promised us? Where is the free and fair election?” asked a frustated Abdel Hay Ismail, 50. Read the full story by Dina Zayed here.
(Photo: A woman voting in Cairo November 28, 2010/Asmaa Waguih)
Opposition charges of ballot stuffing, bullying and dirty tricks clouded a legislative election in Egypt on Sunday in which the ruling party wants to prevent its Islamist rivals from repeating their 2005 success. The Muslim Brotherhood contested 30 percent of lower house seats after winning an unprecedented 20 percent in 2005. But the Islamists expect a lower total this time. Hundreds of their activists were detained ahead of the poll, signalling the government’s determination to squeeze its most vocal critics out of parliament before a presidential vote in 2011. Read the full story by Yasmine Saleh and Marwa Awad here.
(Photo: Election banners in Alexandria, November 27, 2010/ Goran Tomasevic)
President Hosni Mubarak’s National Democratic Party (NDP) has held power for decades. The vote will not loosen its grip. Egypt will also hold its second multi-candidate poll for the presidency next year, but even if Mubarak opts not to run, don’t expect a democratic contest in the most populous Arab nation. Egypt’s political landscape has barely shifted since Mubarak took power in 1981 after Islamist militants shot dead his predecessor Anwar Sadat. That stasis brings its own uncertainty.
Read an analysis — Elections mask where real power lies in Egypt — by Edmund Blair here. See also a factbox on Egypt’s series of elections.