Judges demand Habib\’s dismissal

Judges demand Habib\’s dismissal 
– Egyptian judges on Sunday, December 4, called on President Hosni Mubarak to sack the minister of interior for police attacks on their peers during the first round of the third and last phase of the parliamentary elections.

A coalition of Egyptian rights groups have also called for the resignation of the government of Ahmed Nazif for failing to bring in much-hoped transparent and fair elections.

Some 100 judges who supervised voting joined forces at a meeting hosted by the independent Judges’ Union, delivering shocking testimonies on their hands-on experience.

The judges blasted Interior Minister Habib El-Adli for turning a blind eye to the grisly attacks by some of his men on their colleagues.

Police have further banned supporters of the opposition from casting the ballot, they said.

Egyptians return to the polls on Wednesday, December 7, to elect candidates to fill the 127 seats still up for grabs in run-offs of the elections’ third and last phase, which were marred by violence and widespread voter obstruction.

The ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) has already won 224 of the seats in the 454-seat People’s Assembly, with the officially banned but popular Muslim Brotherhood in second place with 76 seats.

Independent monitors have reported the use of thugs hired by the NDP to intimidate supporters of opposition candidates and voters.

IslamOnline.net has revealed that Egyptian security agents directed machete- and club-wielding gangs in attacks against voters and supporters of opposition candidates in the second round of voting.

Judge Abdel Wahid Mohiddin, who monitored voting in the northeastern city of Al-Sharqiya, said he and other voting staffers were locked inside a school used as a polling station.

“Police have banned voters from entering the polling station, and fired tear gas canisters to disperse an angry crowd and deter the judges when they tried to protest the flagrant police interference.

“A meager 90 voters out of a total of 30,000 had cast their ballots in consequence,” he added.

Deputy Attorney General Ahmed Abdel Khaleq have had his army broken when policemen assaulted and kicked him for insisting on be present during vote counting.

Hazem Salah, a court chief, said police only allowed people carrying NDP IDs in, prompting other voters to climb the back walls of the polling station.

“Policeman told judges that we are just obeying orders from officers higher in command,” Salah said.

Essam Hussein, a top aide to the Justice Minister, was heckled by the judges when he tried to calm them down.

Most of the judges went for supervising the Wednesday’s run-offs to expose to the public eye irregularities, though some of them, led by deputy head of the Court of Cassation Hisham El-Bastawisi, wanted to pull out to embarrass the regime.

On the country’s future elections, the judges agreed to take their decision at a general assembly meeting of their union on December 16.

A coalition of Egyptian rights groups also demanded Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif and his ministers to resign for failing to keep his promises on fair and transparent elections.

“The election process has demonstrated that the government was having an agenda,” Nigad El-Borei, the head of the Democratic Development Group told IOL Sunday.

“The blatant police interference and denying voters access to polling stations to choose their candidates are a case in point.”

Borei further said that the rights coalition has demanded the attorney general to immediately question security chiefs in governorates where violence had been reported.

The third round turned bloody Thursday, December 2, after security forces killed one citizen and wounded more than seventy others.

An Egyptian court ruled Saturday, December 3, that election monitors may use closed-circuit television to observe vote counting.

The Electoral Commission had allowed local nongovernmental organizations to monitor voting, but not the counting.

Rights groups regretted that ruling did not come until after the first round of the third and final stage of the polls.

The New York-based Human Rights Watch scolded Sunday the US administration’s comments on the elections, saying the remarks were “utterly disconnected from the reality of what is happening in Egypt today.”