Elections Monitor: Violence in run-offs and calls to dissolve parliament

The National Democratic Party has won 419 seats out of 504 contested seats in the people’s assembly elections, thereby ensuring “an overwhelming majority,” reports state-run Al-Ahram.

Elections were postponed over four additional seats. According to Al-Ahram’s coverage of the results, independent candidates secured 70 seats, and opposition party candidates scored 15 seats.

While NDP Secretary-General Safwat al-Sherif described the results as an accurate reflection of Egypt’s political map, according to Al-Ahram, privately-owned and independent newspapers focus on the doubtful constitutionality of the newly-elected parliament and document electoral irregularities.

“We repeat: [Ahmed] Ezz’s Parliament…Void,” reads the front-page headline of privately-owned Al-Dostour. According to the report, several rights organizations involved in monitoring Sunday’s run-offs documented electoral violations that threaten to make the 2010 people’s assembly void.

Members of the Independent Coalition for Elections Observation, which includes the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, the Egyptian Organization for the Promotion of Societal Participation, and the Nazra Center for Women’s Studies, called on President Hosni Mubarak to use his constitutional powers to dissolve the new People’s Assembly and amend the political rights law before the next elections.

The coalition asserted in a press conference held on Monday that dissolving parliament is a necessary step toward reforming the electoral system in Egypt. The coalition called on the president to form an investigative committee comprised of respected independent figures to investigate the conduct of the elections and draw lessons for future elections.

Al-Wafd paper, published by the liberal Wafd Party, dedicates a full page to a discussion of administrative justice court rulings and their implication for the nullification of the newly-elected 2010 People’s Assembly. According to the report, the Independent Coalition for Elections Observation said the main feature of the 28 November elections has been the fact that rulings issued by courts of administrative justice to halt elections in several districts were not implemented. 

In addition, Al-Wafd reports that lawyer Issam al-Islambolli has prepared a set of documents demonstrating electoral violations in preparation for filing a lawsuit with the court of administrative justice contesting the constitutionality of the new People’s Assembly.

Coalition observers documented several electoral irregularities, including errors in voter registries, widespread violence, thuggery as a method of gathering votes, a low voter turnout in the run-offs, prior filling out of ballots, bribes, preventing candidates’ representatives and civil society observers from entering polling stations, preventing voters from entering polling stations, and delaying the opening of polling stations, according to Al-Wafd.

In addition, the Egyptian Organization for the Support of Democratic Development documented 44 cases of voter intimidation in front of polling stations, 106 cases of collective voting, and 170 cases of delayed opening of polling stations, reports privately-owned Al-Shorouk.

Several acts of violence ensued following the announcement of the results of Sunday’s run-offs, reports Al-Shorouk. The Egyptian Organization to Support Democratic Development documented 121 instances of violence in its first report on the run-offs, according to Al-Shorouk. In North Sinai, supporters of losing candidate Fayiz Abu Harb headed to the police checkpoint in Abu Tawila and started firing shots haphazardly, injuring one police officer.

In Bi’r al-Abd in Arish, celebrations by winning supporters of the winning candidate Ramadan Sarhan provoked supporters of the losing independent candidate Soliman al-Zamalout, resulting in clashes between the two parties, the destruction of some shops, and the obstruction of major streets.

The governorate of Marsa Matrouh also witnessed acts of vandalism and large gatherings of candidate supporters following the announcement of the results, according to Al-Shorouk. Two bank facades and ATM machines were destroyed, and seven cars were vandalized, including a police car. One police officer and five citizens were injured in the clashes. More than 40 demonstrators were arrested.

The run-offs were also plagued by a great deal of vote buying, according to reports by privately-owned and opposition newspapers. The Egyptian Organization to Support Democratic Development documented 83 cases of vote buying, according to Al-Shorouk.

In the Red Sea Governorate, a voter said he waited to vote until the end of the day as vote prices rose to LE1000 per vote, reports Al-Wafd. In the district of Rod al-Farag in Cairo, votes reach LE300 each, reports Youm 7.

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