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Police beat up judges, block voting in Egypt
Police beat up judges, block voting in Egypt Riot police clashed with would-be voters and blocked off polling stations to prevent people from casting ballots in several Muslim Brotherhood and opposition strongholds yesterday, as Egypt entered the final round of legislative elections marred by violence and allegations of rigging. In one village, men and women determined t
Saturday, December 3,2005 00:00
by (AP)

Police beat up judges, block voting in Egypt

Riot police clashed with would-be voters and blocked off polling stations to prevent people from casting ballots in several Muslim Brotherhood and opposition strongholds yesterday, as Egypt entered the final round of legislative elections marred by violence and allegations of rigging.


In one village, men and women determined to vote resorted to climbing over the back wall of the polling station on a ladder, slipping in through a bathroom window, out of sight of police barring the entrance.

Security forces beat up at least four judges posted to monitor voting, and other judges were forced to close their stations because of clashes outside, said Hesham El Bastawisy, a member of a movement of pro-reform judges.

“President (Hosni)  Mubarak deceived me. I believed him when he talked about democracy but look at what is going on,” said Hamdi Sayyed, a would-be voter in the Nile Delta village of Sandoub, where lines of riot police barred people from the polling station.

Under US pressure to bring democratic reform, Mubarak’s government has given its top rival, the banned Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s largest Islamic movement, considerable leeway to campaign in the early stages of the three-part elections.

But police interference has intensified in the later rounds, after the Brotherhood scored unexpectedly large gains, increasing its current representation in parliament more than five-fold.

In some towns — even ones where Brotherhood candidates were favoured — voting proceeded normally yesterday, without police intervening or violence by candidates’ supporters. But in several areas visited by Associated Press reporters, voters were barred.

The Interior Ministry accused the Brotherhood of inciting violence and attacking judges in polling stations. It said beefed-up security measures were taken to prevent Brotherhood supporters from “terrorising” voters for other candidates.

Hundreds of people lined up in front of a school used as a polling station in Sandoub, 120km north of Cairo — the hometown of Brotherhood candidate Saber Zakher — but they were prevented from approaching by lines of riot police, armed with sticks, rifles and tear-gas launchers.

“Where is democracy and freedom? We want to vote but they prevented us,” said Ibtassam El Shazli, a Sandoub resident dressed head to toe in a black veil. She said she had intended to vote for the Brotherhood. “We want someone who feels our pain. We are fed up with disease, unemployment and poverty.”

In the nearby town of Bussat, the smell of tear gas hung in the air as angry would-be voters shouted at police blocking the station. Behind the polling station, men and women clambered up ladders over the wall.

An independent candidate not connected to the Brotherhood, Faisal Ibrahim Hassanein, is running against a candidate from the ruling National Democratic Party in the Bussat area.

Hundreds of security forces cordoned off schools in the Sinai town of El Arish, preventing most voters from entering.


Posted in Election Coverage , Judges Activites  
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