Review of the Egyption press about Elections

Review of the Egyption press about Elections

Egypt’s opposition al-Wafd daily reported Monday unregistered “mentally handicapped” voters cast their ballots in the country’s second round of legislative elections.

The liberal paper, owned by al-Wafd Party, said an independent local rights group reported the “mentally retarded” were brought to vote in favor of the President Hosni Mubarak’s ruling National Democratic Party candidates in Alexandria Sunday, but did not say whether the ballots were validated. It also said men hired by the NDP threw Molotov cocktails, water bottles and stones at voters in Port Saeed to prevent them from casting their ballots for the Muslim Brotherhood and al-Wafd candidates.

It said the police cordoned off the area, fired tear gas canisters and bullets in the air to end the clashes, reporting that a policeman and several voters were injured. The paper added 15 Muslim Brotherhood supporters were stabbed and injured in an attack by NDP supporters in the port city of Ismailia, saying they also threatened voters and election subcommittees with knives and dogs.

It claimed the ruling party supporters “disguised themselves as police officers and kicked out representatives of competing candidates from the polling stations, tearing up their accreditation documents and assaulting some of them, who were taken to hospital.”

Egypt’s semi-official al-Gomhuriya commented, however, the violence in the second round of legislative elections should not be a cause for concern on the “safety of the election process.”

The mass-circulation daily said in its editorial the polls enjoyed a “high level of transparency and honesty in the government’s neutrality and the security services’ commitment in protecting the safety of voters, as well as allowing monitors from civil society to register any violations.”

It insisted security forces only interfered when clashes threatened the lives of the electorate and said the thugs, whom the opposition accused the ruling party of hiring, “usually profit on such occasions.” The paper said the violations should not raise concerns on the integrity of the elections, saying it calls for “more restrictions so that the voters can choose their candidates without interference or pressure from anyone.”