Election Day Woes
No-holes-barred blatant fraud and corruption made protestors erupt as many independent monitors were barred from polling stations amid reports of ballot box stuffing and vote buying. To top it all off, government candidates were seen handing out cash and food to voters. No wonder then that protesting Muslim Brotherhood supporters scuffled with police outside vote counting stations, denouncing widespread fraud in Egypt’s elections.
With accustomed determination to ensure and maintain its monopoly, the Egyptian regime stopped at nothing to kick its opposition out of the way, preparing its population for next year’s presidential election.
Despite health issues and recent surgery, Mubarak remains confident that he can run for another six-year term – taking him up to the ripe old age of 90. But still unable to resolve the uncertainty over the future of the country’s leadership, unless he succeeds to install his son, Gamal, against the wishes of his people as well as many of his ministers, the aging Mubarak hails to glory amid scathing reports of fraud, police brutality, poll rigging, bribery and the general corruption on which his country runs.
But Egyptians are getting tired. Fed up with high prices, low wages, persistent unemployment and poor services despite the economic growth that has fuelled a boom for the upper classes, they no longer want to remain silent and election time is a chance for many to voice their dismay at Mubarak’s notorious NDP.
Exercising a free hand, and determined to sweep up parliament, scooping up the seats, barring the door against the opposition and preventing any future platform for dissent, in the run-up to Sunday’s vote the ruling regime oversaw the arrest of more than 1300 Muslim Brotherhood supporters, not to mention the beatings, intimidation and startling police brutality that consistently marks any opposition to the US’s favourite Middle Eastern dictatorship.
Fearing the Brotherhood’s 2005 success in the last parliamentary election where it won a fifth of the legislature, – that came amid widespread rigging and the death of 14 people – the regime is set to avoid such a victory in 2010 and warned ahead of time that it would see to it that the Brotherhood had no chance of gaining nearly as many seats this time round.
Intimidation played out well for the regime once again as a heavy police presence, along with gangs of thugs, scared off many opposition supporters. Scared off well before election day Egyptians were even apprehensive about leaving their homes, let alone heading to the polling booths.
Determined to adhere to its ‘no to violence’ policy, Muslim Brotherhood supporters chanted ‘No to fraud’ outside a police station where ballots were being counted in Alexandria. Their peaceful protest was met with several hundred riot police and truckloads of civilians touting long sticks. Police blocks barred the way for protesting supporters to continue their peaceful chants. Nevertheless, Mubarak insists that democracy is alive and well in Egypt even though independent monitors from human rights groups were barred entry from many polling stations, leaving government-picked low-level officials and police to supervise voting.
Ironically sensitive and conveniently brushing off US calls to allow foreign monitors to observe the election, rejecting the idea of having an "overseer", the regime pummelled its way through the masses of MB supporters, manipulating local monitors, and laying claim to every vote cast.
Mubarak’s National Democratic Party (NDP) is poised to win a solid majority of the 508 elected seats while the only serious opposition, the Muslim Brotherhood, is predicted to do considerably worse than it did in the last election in 2005, when it won one-fifth of the seats.
Being a NDP candidate is an expensive business with the going price for buying a vote set at between $7-9, a substantial amount for poor Egyptians. But the costs of rigging an election in favour of a brutal dictatorship mount up as police officers are bribed and candidate supporters and thugs are paid off. In a pathetic bid to grab votes, the regime turned its focus onto its 41 million registered voters, offering mere crumbs from the table of its wealthy elite. Failing to see much hope for change in the near future but lured by the promise of ‘money for your vote’ many Egyptians set out to polling stations to see what they could get – even a bit of food. But the real cost is seen and will continue to be seen in the absence of freedom, democracy and justice from the US- supported dictatorship.