- Election Coverage
- November 21, 2005
- 16 minutes read
INDEPENDENT COMMITTEE ON ELECTION MONITORING ,Phase(2)
INDEPENDENT COMMITTEE ON ELECTION MONITORING
Opening of the Polls
Sunday, November 20, 2005 11:00AM
The Independent Committee for Election Monitoring (ICEM), a coalition of sixteen NGOs led by the Ibn Khaldun Center is deploying a total of 5,000 observers to monitor the voting process for the Parliamentary election. ICEM is aimed at providing for the integrity and the credibility of the election process. In the first run-off round of the elections, ICEM has deployed 1500 observers to monitor the voting and counting procedures in 72 electoral districts of 9 governorates where more than 1700 candidates are competing for 144 seats.
Election Day Monitoring: The Opening of the Polls
All morning reports from field observers indicate deterioration in the level of violence, in allowing observers to enter polling stations, in cooperation from security forces, and in general respect for electoral procedures.
Reported Arrests of Candidate Poll-Watchers and Supporters
ICEM observers are reporting of systematic arrests in upper Eygpt, particularly poll-watchers and candidate supporters of Muslim Brotherhood candidates. Over 50 supporters and poll-watchers have already been arrested in Qena and Fayoum.
In addition, 17 Muslim Brotherhood supporters were arrested in the Tanta district of Gharbaya.
Observers Beaten and Denied Access to Polling Stations
Two ICEM observers, Mahmoud Shehata and Mohamed Taha, have been beaten in Ismalia by NDP supporters driving a vehicle with plates numbered 539630 and registered in Assiut. This took place in district of Ismalia at the Zera’a School. Another ICEM observer, Abdullah Unis, was assaulted by a police officer in the Hadat region of Luxor at the Mubarak Preparatory School.
In this second phase of elections, far more restrictions have been imposed upon ICEM observers. In the vast majority of polling stations, ICEM observers have been denied entry to observe the opening procedures. Authorities’ arbitrary decisions continue to seriously undermine Egypt’s citizens’ rights to a fair and transparent process.
Polling Centers Late in Opening
Around 65% of the polling facilities observed by the ICEM observers had not opened on time. ICEM is not in a position to report on the opening procedures as the majority of its observers were denied access to the polling stations. ICEM can, however, confirm that voting was delayed in the majority of polling stations because judges arrived late, as did supplies of indelible ink.
ICEM observers are reporting of increased and systematic efforts to intimidate voters throughout Egypt. Observers have reported that organized teams of thugs, primarily NDP supporters, are engaging in criminal activities such as threatening and preventing voters from accessing polling stations. In the early hours of the morning, ICEM has already received an overwhelming number of reports from Alexandria, Fayoum, Gharbaya, Port Said, and Qena.
ICEM believes that the failure of the authorities to investigate past actions of violence and intimidation has encouraged this escalating criminal activity. ICEM calls upon the authorities to investigate these offenses and bring perpetrators to justice.
A disturbance in Tanta is currently escalating. Police are reported to have fired warning shots in the air and used tear gas when Muslim Brotherhood supporters staged a demonstration upon being denied access to polling stations at the Maha Tawakol and Sidi Mohamed Abdul Rahman Schools.
In the first district Ismalia, a Muslim Brotherhood Candidate Mohamed Hussein Ali was beaten by thugs that are reportedly moving from one polling station to the next driving a red truck registered in Giza with plates numbered 40474.
In the Barma district of Al Gharbaya, there was a quarrel between supporters of NDP candidate Mohamed Alougy and those of the independent candidate Ismail Asharqawy.
In the Al Mahalla district of Gharbaya a quarrel erupted between supporters of the NDP candidate Samir Aissa and those of the independent candidate Ismail Al-Banna. Several supporters of the independent candidate were severely injured and rushed to the hospital.
In the Manchea district of Alexandria, thugs have apparently overrun at least five polling stations armed with knives and clubs. The Palestine School, Qasm Amin Preparatory School, Al Aymiraya Prep School and several others are among these polling stations.
ICEM continues to receive a growing number of reports indicating a concerning escalation of violence at polling places.
ICEM observers are reporting that campaigning is taking place for NDP, opposition and independent candidates outside the polling facilities throughout Egypt.
ICEM observers reported that mainly NDP, but also opposition and independent candidate supporters, and thugs continue to be present at the majority of the polling facilities intimidating voters. This form of illegal campaigning is inflammatory and making the environment extremely volatile.
INDEPENDENT COMMITTEE ON ELECTION MONITORING
Heightened Levels of Violence Mars Election
Sunday, November 20, 2005 4:00 PM
Since early this morning, ICEM had been receiving reports of violent incidents throughout Egypt. Reports reveal a systematic and planned campaign of intimidation against opposition voters, in particular, Muslim Brotherhood supporters and candidates. These incidents have ranged from assault and battery to homicide. ICEM condemns in the strongest possible terms this and all types of violence. Thus far, the violent incidents have posed the greatest challenge to the fairness of the elections and have severely prevented voters from freely expressing their will. As the election process unfolds, it is becoming obvious that there is an organized campaign of violence with little or no effective police intervention or prevention. The organized campaign of violence not only provides for a truly unacceptable background for any democratic process but furthermore discredits the election outcome.
In Alexandria, there has been a string of violent occurrences today. In the Mancheya district, a demonstration by supporters of Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mahmoud Atteya who were denied access to the polling station were attacked by security forces and thugs, resulting in four hospitalizations and one fatality. In Al-Montaza district, groups of thugs destroyed six cars, attacked bystanders randomly, and killed one taxi driver. Also, Saif Al-Qaberi, an NDP candidate running in the Mancheya district, was stabbed by a group of thugs. And finally, a group of Muslim Brotherhood supporters broke into the Magri Gergis Church in Al-Amareya district, setting fire to the establishment.
In the first district of Ismaelia, a demonstration by Muslim Brotherhood supporters was severely repressed by police officers who shot into the crowd. There were also thugs present who assaulted the demonstrators with knives and clubs.
In the Qaabuty district of Port Said, a group of thugs assaulted Muslim Brotherhood voters with knives in the Ahad, Tabooty and Saad Zaghloul schools. And in the first district, Ibrahim Saad, a man with history of violent crime, assaulted women and children with a knife and injured a veiled Muslim Brotherhood supporter. In the second district of the same governorate, the police withdrew all of their forces which gave thugs the opportunity to assault opposition supporters, leaving the opposition candidate Mohammed Al-Nazmy injured. There are also reports that there is a roaming group of thugs, traveling in an organized fashion from polling station to polling station, with the intention of threatening and intimidating voters. This is happening without intervention from the police.
In the Berma district of Gharbia, at Al-Tarbia Al-Fikria School, massive disputes erupted between NDP and Muslim Brotherhood supporters following the decision of the judge to expel all poll-watchers.
In Al-Beharya, Bandar Al-Damanhoor district, severe injuries and destruction resulted from fights that broke out among the Muslim Brotherhood supporters of Mohammed Gamal Heshmad and the supporters of the NDP candidate.
INDEPENDENT COMMITTEE FOR ELECTION MONITORING (ICEM)
Sunday, November 20, 2005 9:00 pm
Election Day Monitoring: The Voting Process and the Closing of the Polls
The Independent Committee for Election Monitoring (ICEM), a coalition of sixteen NGOs led by the Ibn Khaldun Center is deploying a total of 5,000 observers to monitor the voting process for the Parliamentary election. ICEM is aimed at providing for the integrity and the credibility of the election process. In the second round of the election, ICEM has deployed 1500 observers to monitor the voting and counting procedures in 72 electoral districts of 9 governorates where more than 1700 candidates are competing for 144 seats.
Approximately 250 ICEM observers are planning to observe the counting of the ballots. Initial information suggests that unfortunately many of these monitors will continue to be denied access to the counting centers, even though many of them have official permission from the Egyptian Ministry of Justice. ICEM urges the relevant authorities to comply with the law and allow monitors to observe the counting of the ballots.
ICEM believes that no election can be called free, fair and transparent if voters have been denied the right to monitor and scrutinize the process by which their vote is transformed into real political representation.
In general, ICEM monitors have reported that the vast majority of the polling stations were appropriately supplied with indelible ink. Nonetheless, the electoral process has been marred by serious and widespread violations that have undermined the credibility and the integrity of the election. These violations include voter intimidation, vote-buying, ballot stuffing, and inaccurate voters’ lists.
Today’s elections were marked by a significantly higher level of violence than the previous round. This violence involved mainly supporters for NDP, but also opposition and independent candidates. Since early this morning, ICEM had been receiving reports of violent incidents throughout Egypt. The reports, taken together, reveal a systematic and planned campaign of intimidation against opposition voters, in particular, Muslim Brotherhood supporters and candidates. In addition, there has been little or no effective police intervention or prevention. The day’s incidents have ranged from assault and battery to homicide.
ICEM condemns in the strongest possible terms this and all types of violence. Thus far, it has been the violence which has posed the greatest challenge to the fairness of the elections and has severely impeded voters from freely expressing their will. This widespread and systematic violence not only creates a truly unacceptable background for any democratic process but, furthermore, it discredits the final election outcome.
According to initial ICEM reports, a maximum of 17 % of registered voters turned out to vote at the polling stations observed by ICEM. Because ICEM’s activities were located primarily in hotly contested polling stations that could be expected to draw out more of the electorate, this estimate could possibly be biased in the upwards direction.
Electoral Violations and Irregularities
Preventing ICEM Monitors from Monitoring the Election
In this second round of elections, far more restrictions have been imposed upon ICEM observers. In the vast majority of polling stations, ICEM observers have been denied entry to observe the voting procedures or have been expelled soon after they managed to enter. Authorities’ arbitrary decisions in this matter continue to seriously undermine Egyptian citizens’ rights to a fair and transparent electoral process.
In addition to the cases mentioned in the report titled “Heightened Violence Mars Elections,” issued today at 4:00 pm, ICEM has received the following information:
In the Koos district of Qenaa, there were gunshots directed at supporters of Muslim Brotherhood candidate Hisham Al-Qafty from the supporters of NDP candidate Mohammed Mahmoud Aly. Nine injuries have thus far been reported, including one child.
In the Damanhoor district of Beharya, fights are still continuing between supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohammed Gamal Hishmat and the NDP candidate Mustafa El-Faqy. It has been reported that there was one fatality and seven injuries.
In the Aboreesh district, fights have also taken place. Police fired gunshots and used tear gas in their attempts to disperse the crowd.
In Etay El-Baroud district, supporters of the NDP candidate, Hussein El-Sayrafy, assaulted the supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohammed Al-Gazzar in front of the Iqlisheen polling station. This resulted in one death and several injuries among the supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood candidate.
In the third district of Ismailya, in polling stations 80 and 81, the police assaulted voters and monitors. The police were also responsible for closing the polling stations two hours ahead of the scheduled closing time.
In the Tanta district of Gharbiya, supporters of the NDP candidate Ahmed Shoubir beat the Muslim Brotherhood candidate at the Said Al- Erian School which initiated a broader fight. Police then closed the polling station for three hours.
In the Berma district of Gharbiya, a fight between supporters of competing NDP candidates Hamdi El-Konayisi and Mohammad Al-Halougi broke out.
Numerous Arrests Made
ICEM observers were amongst those targeted for arrest. In the Derma district, three ICEM observers were arrested as they tried to perform monitoring activities. They were taken to the police station and interrogated for one hour even though they were in possession of cards from the Ministry of Justice accrediting them as observers. In Qontara Sharq district of Ismailya, two ICEM observers were held in custody at Al-Obur School for four hours until the voting had ended.
In the Tanta District of Gharbiya, at the Sayeda Khadeega School, four Muslim Brotherhood supporters were arrested as a consequence of a phone call made directly from the NDP candidate, Ahmed Shoubir. Another twenty-five were arrested in front of polling station number 21.
Also in Gharbiya, the wife of a Muslim Brotherhood candidate, Mahmoud Koleeb, and a number of his supporters were arrested and detained for the entire day.
In the Koseya district of Qanaa, two poll-watchers for the Muslim Brotherhood candidate were arrested at the polling station.
Inaccurate Voters’ Lists
Inaccurate voting lists have continued to be a common occurrence in this round of the elections. Numerous reports indicated that voters’ lists had been altered. There were also complaints from candidates themselves that the voters’ lists used today did not correspond with the official lists they had received prior to the elections. For example, in the Kafre Al-Zayat district, polling station number 69 at the Dabakhshat School, the voters’ list was completely different with the end result that not one single person was able to vote there.
Campaigning and Other Violations
ICEM observers report fierce campaigning in the close vicinity of the polling centers by all party and independent candidates. Likewise, NDP, opposition, independent candidate supporters and thugs remained present at the majority of the polling facilities and were intimidating voters. This form of illegal campaigning is one of the factors that continue to incite violence.
Al-Kerya Church has been campaigning for Mahmoud Sobhy in the first district of Port Said. In return, Mohmoud Sobry made a donation to the church in the amount of L.E. 100,000. This is clearly in violation of the law which forbids government of religious institutions to be involved in any way with campaigning.
In the Tanta district of Gharbiya, supporters of NDP candidate Ahmed Shoubir publicly distributed gifts and food to voters both inside and outside the polling station.
ICEM observers regularly reported incidents where Muslim Brotherhood supporters were denied access to polling stations.
Instances of multiple and group voting were regularly reported from Fayoum, Beharya, and Gharbiya.
In the Berma district of Beharya, at Al-Wahda Baytareya polling station, voting was been conducted without any ID, either personal or electoral.
Lastly, many polling stations were closed periodically throughout the day, and without justifiable reason. For example, this happened in Bandar Al-Fayoum district at polling stations number 44 and 10.
Independent Committee for Election Monitoring (ICEM)