Sunday Is D-Day in Egypt

Sunday Is D-Day in Egypt

 Despite the violence, arbitrary detentions and determined campaigners struggling against a dishonest, brutal regime, less than half the population of Egypt is expected to take part in Sunday’s polls. With 508 seats up for grabs and more than 5000 registered candidates competing across 254 constituencies, the Muslim Brotherhood is only running 130 candidates after the overseeing committee disqualified more than a dozen of its contenders.
A nationwide crack down on MB supporters has seen more than 1300 people detained, with some killed in custody, and candidates face arbitrary restrictions while campaigning. The regime certainly does not want a repeat performance of the 2005 parliamentary poll, which saw the Brotherhood win a fifth of the available seats.

But the ruling regime has a myriad of rights activists barking at its heels, and even though there is little chance of preventing rigging of the polls, they do intend to at least document violations to tell the world that Egypt has no democracy and no freedom. They hope help will come from voters through an Internet map, intended to track violations at the polls. Voters witnessing any cheating, police intimidation or violence can send messages via mobile phones, Facebook and Twitter.

Human rights groups say that the NDP is hanging onto its power by its teeth and will use any method or means to ensure the opposition remains nothing more than a scare crow. The regime has a legacy to uphold and tomorrow’s elections come in the wake of the 2005 parliamentary polls which saw police closing off entire polling stations to ensure opposition voters could not enter, sparking riots that cost the lives of 10 people. The 2010 elections are not expected to be any different as the regime blatantly insists that past votes were fair. However, even before the 2010 polls begin, police and armed gangs have repeatedly broken up campaign rallies by MB candidates with more than 1,300 activists arrested. Seeking to carry out elections in the dark and without reflecting the will of the people, the regime has forced the closure of several independent TV stations, rejecting US calls to allow international monitoring of the polls.

Meanwhile, daring to take on the brutal Egyptian regime, 45-year-old Ayman Nour continues the fight for democracy despite being mistreated in jail for four years. Sitting in Beirut, he disdains the ‘moderate’, ‘pro-Western’ Egyptian regime, and President Hosni Mubarak, America’s favourite Middle Eastern dictator. His statements tend to make Western leaders more in favor ofMubarak than a feared religious state that Nour appears to represent. Using such sentiments as Nour’s to conjure up sympathy for their leadership role, the Egyptian regime continues to seek Western approval and further tightens its grip stating that local monitors must obtain permission to work from the Election Commission, setting strict limitations on what monitors can do. Even if monitors persevere through the tedious long wait to be registered, they can only enter polling stations to watch voting, but can not question or survey election officials or voters.

Only 69 from 1,116 volunteers applied to monitor have been approved.
New concerns have arisen as independent judges this year will not act as monitors because of a 2007-constitutional-amendment removing the judiciary from polling stations, relegating them to an indirect supervisory role, thus making it easier to tamper with the vote. Ironically, this move could reduce violence, since police would have less need to close off stations to opposition voters, the cause of most of the clashes in 2005. Believing it would win in a free and fair vote, the MB sees that it is getting squeezed out of the 2010 508-seat parliament.