One killed, hundreds arrested as violence mars elections (Roundup)

One killed, hundreds arrested as violence mars elections (Roundup)

Cairo – The death of one person and arrest of several hundreds marred the second phase of Egyptian elections on Sunday after a relatively calm first round earlier this month.

Mohamed Khalil, 20, died of knife wounds sustained after he tried to break up a fight between supporters of opposing candidates in Alexandria, said security sources.

The young man was not, as first reported, the driver of a candidate or linked to anyone participating in the polls.

The banned but tolerated Moslem Brotherhood organization said that some 360 of its members were detained to prevent them from casting ballots.

More than 1,700 candidates vied for 144 seats in nine governorates around the country. The second phase run-off is scheduled for November 26.

The electoral battle clearly heated up in the second round after a relatively quiet first phase on November 9 and 15 when reports of irregularities focused on minor fistfights between supporters of opposing candidates and widespread vote buying.

Violence and arrests were also absent from the country’s first multi-candidate presidential elections in September, though such incidents did mar the parliamentary polls in 2000.

The ruling National Democratic Party (NDP), which won 120 seats in the first round, was expected to maintain its significant majority in parliament. In the first round the Moslem Brotherhood won more seats in a single phase than it achieved in the whole of the last parliamentary polls.

In just one round, the Brotherhood took 34 seats to its 17 in the entirety of the 2000 elections. So far the opposition has won 10 seats out of a total of 444 elected seats up for grabs in the People’s Assembly elections that wrap up in a third phase December 1 and 7.

Reports of clashes between supporters of opposing candidates came in from the nine governorates in which the second phase began Sunday. At least 10 people were injured in clashes.

Egypt’s Ministry of Interior issued a statement Sunday saying its forces intervened immediately to deal with instances of violence ’in light of the tension caused by certain candidates’ use of Islamic slogans’.

The Brotherhood ran its campaign under the slogan ’Islam is the solution’, fielding some 130 candidates in the three rounds for which a total of 444 elected seats are up for grabs.

Meanwhile Sunday security sources admitted that they had detained dozens of Moslem Brothers around the country for instigating fights or having knives in their possession, after earlier refusing to comment on reports of such arrests.

Polling ends at 7:00 pm Cairo time (1700 GMT). The polls are divided into three stages to allow for judicial supervision of the ballot boxes.