Final phase of Egypt elections marred by violence

Final phase of Egypt elections marred by violence
A supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood (R) fights with National Democratic Party supporters (L) during a brawl at a voting station in the Sanwea district in Mansoura, north of Cairo, Thursday 01 December 2005, during the third round of the Egyptian parliamentary elections. EPA/KHALED EL FIQI
Cairo – Violence marred the final phase of Egypt’s parliamentary elections on Thursday, with at least one man reported dead following fierce clashes in the country’s northern provinces.

An Interior Ministry spokesman confirmed reports that a man in his 30s, identified as Gomaa al-Zeftawi, died and dozens others injured during clashes between supporters of rival candidates in Kafr al- Sheikh province.

The spokesman added that over 100 people were injured in other provinces, and between 50 and 60 arrested in connection with violence.

A source at a hospital in Kafr al-Sheikh said that more than 200 people were admitted to the hospital, most of whom suffered injuries or teargas inhalation.

At some polling stations, security forces were seen firing teargas and rubber bullets to disperse crowds engaged in fistfights and attacks with weapons, with most clashes being between supporters of the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) and the Islamist opposition group the Moslem Brotherhood.

Supporters of opposition candidates complained early in the day that potential voters were unable to reach the polling stations in constituencies where the opposition were expected to make headway. Security police cordoned off some polling stations and were seen selectively allowing the entrance of voters.

Judges overseeing the parliamentary elections had consequently threatened to withdraw if security police continued to impede polling. Satellite television crew members and journalists also complained they were prevented from entering the polling stations.

The third phase of the elections has been by far the most heated and turbulent of all phases, the second seeing only one man reported dead.

Voting this year however has been less violent than in the last elections in 2000, when 10 people were killed.

The third phase of voting taking place in nine Egyptian provinces started December 1, with run-offs slated for December 7.

Around 1770 candidates are competing for 136 seats. Run-offs are expected for most of the seats because of the large number of candidates in comparison with the first two phases.

In the first two phases, the NDP won more than 200 seats, the Brotherhood 76 and other opposition candidates 10. Final results of the third phase are expected to be announced following run-offs on December 7, with the final make up of Egypt’s 454-seat parliament announced by mid-December.

Egypt’s five-year term parliament has 444 elected seats, with the remaining ten deputies appointed by the president.