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2nd PRESS STATEMENT,(ICEM)
 2nd PRESS STATEMENTINDEPENDENT COMMITTEE ON ELECTION MONITORING MONITORING THE RUN-OFF OF THE SECOND PHASE OF THE PARLIAMENTARY ELECTION ELECTORAL PROCESS FURTHER DEGRADED BY PLANNED VIOLENCE, SECURITY FORCES BIAS AND MASSIVE DISENFRANCHISEMENT OF THE OPPOSITION Saturday, Nov. 26, 2005 9:00PM The Independent Committee for Election Monitoring (ICEM), a
Sunday, November 27,2005 00:00
by (ICEM)

 
2nd PRESS STATEMENT
INDEPENDENT COMMITTEE ON ELECTION MONITORING
MONITORING THE RUN-OFF OF THE SECOND PHASE OF THE PARLIAMENTARY ELECTION

ELECTORAL PROCESS FURTHER DEGRADED BY PLANNED VIOLENCE, SECURITY FORCES BIAS AND MASSIVE DISENFRANCHISEMENT OF THE OPPOSITION

Saturday, Nov. 26, 2005 9:00PM

The Independent Committee for Election Monitoring (ICEM), a coalition of sixteen NGOs led by the Ibn Khaldun Center is deploying a total of 5,000 observers to monitor the voting process for the Parliamentary Election. ICEM is aimed at providing for the integrity and the credibility of the election process. In the run-off of the second phase of the elections, ICEM is deploying 1,500 observers to monitor the voting and counting procedures in 68 electoral districts where 242 candidates are competing for 121 seats.

ELECTION DAY MONITORING: THE VOTING PROCESS AND THE CLOSING OF THE POLLS

Unfortunately, most of ICEM’s monitors continued to be denied access to the counting centers even though many of them have official permission from the Egyptian Ministry of Justice. ICEM urges the relevant authorities to comply with the law and allow monitors to observe the counting of the ballots. ICEM believes that no election can be called free, fair and transparent if voters have been denied the right to monitor and scrutinize the process by which their vote is transformed into real political representation.

ICEM preliminary findings suggest a further degradation of the election due to planned violence, biases of the security forces and massive disenfranchisement of the opposition, primarily Muslim Brotherhood. Today’s irregularities and misconduct has been clearly planned and directed towards obstructing opposition voters from freely casting their ballot.

 
Massive Disenfranchisement

As a result of the new instructions from the Minister of the Interior, issued two days ago, ICEM did in fact witness a stronger security presence at the polling sites. However, rather than having the desirable effect of facilitating the voting process, it was instead utilized to advantage the NDP. A large number of the polling stations in districts where Muslim Brotherhood candidates were running experienced severe problems throughout the day as a result. In many cases the problems began when massive security forces in front of the polling stations effectively cordoned off the polling station to potential voters. In other cases, though, government officials were present at the entrance denying access to anyone they suspected might be a Muslim Brotherhood supporter. Some concerned judges, unable to change the exterior situation, and as a last recourse in an effort to avoid a grotesque bias in the voting turnout, chose to close the polling stations altogether. This happened notably in Behayra (Kafr Al-Dawar district), Alexandria (Al-Aamreya district), Gharbiya (Tanta district), and Fayoum (Ebshway district).

As a result of this concerted and organized effort to prevent Muslim Brotherhood supporters from voting, large Muslim Brotherhood demonstrations were staged throughout the day. These led to numerous arrests and presented the police with the opportunity to use force in order to contain the crowd.

ICEM believes that the required role of the security forces should be limited to ensuring the safety of the voting process and not interfering in favor of or against any of the parties involved.

In addition, the electoral process has been marred by other serious and widespread violations that have undermined the credibility and the integrity of the election. These violations include vote-buying and inaccurate voters’ lists.

VOTER TURNOUT

According to initial ICEM reports, an estimated 18% of registered voters turned out to vote at the polling stations observed by ICEM. ICEM believes that the rapid escalation of violence and the organized disenfranchisement of large segments of the population are directly responsible for the dramatic drop in voter turnout over the course of these elections.

ELECTORAL VIOLATIONS AND IRREGULARITIES

ICEM Monitors Arrested and Prevented from Monitoring the Election

In this second round of elections, far more restrictions have been imposed upon ICEM observers. At the vast majority of polling stations, ICEM observers have been denied entry to observe the voting procedures. Authorities’ arbitrary decisions in this matter continue to seriously undermine Egyptian citizens’ rights to a fair and transparent electoral process.

In the Tanta district of Gharbiya, the commanding police officer Mohamed Abu Zeid arrested three ICEM observers even though they had official cards from the Ministry of Justice accrediting them as observers.

Violence

In addition to the cases mentioned in this morning’s report, ICEM has received numerous other reports of violence spreading, almost exclusively in the districts where Muslim Brotherhood candidates were seeking seats.

In Al-Mahala Kubra district of Gharbiya, the NDP candidate supporters used live ammunition to intimidate voters and prevent them from approaching the polling stations. In the Zifta district, several fights broke out amongst the supporters of the NDP candidate Abdel Al-Ahad Gamal and the Muslim Brotherhood candidate Walid Al-Shetaami. In the Tanta district, police used tear gas to disperse angry crowds of Muslim Brotherhood supporters who were protesting their disenfranchisement. In the same district, in the Gafriya School polling station, fights erupted between the NDP and Muslim Brotherhood supporters and police arrested some of the provocateurs responsible for the incident.

In the Rashid district of Behayra, thousands of Muslim Brotherhood supporters of Abdel Hamid Zahgloul marched in the streets protesting the fact that they were barred from entering the polling stations. In the district of Kom Hamada, thugs broke into polling stations 11 and 12 where they destroyed the ballot boxes and assaulted the judges and candidate poll-watchers present. This was also repeated in the Al-Khawy polling station in Wad El-Natroun district where eight ballot boxes, numbers 55 – 62, were also destroyed.

In Suez, at the Samir Baroudi School, voters were being assaulted by organized groups of thugs. This same group also detained a group of women for several hours, neither allowing them into the polling station nor letting them leave the premises. In front of Salah Nessim School, some quarrels occurred between police and NDP supporters.

In the third district of Port Said, supporters of the independent but government-backed candidate Said Metwally used excessive violence against the supporters of Al-Wafd party candidate Mohamed Sherdi.

In the Nagh Hammadi district of Qena, several shootings have been reported between supporters of Fathi Al-Qandeel and Abdel Raheem Al-Ghoul.

 
Numerous Arrests Made

In Ghorbal district of Alexandria, in front of Al-Salam School polling station, as a result of a demonstration by Muslim Brotherhood supporters, approximately 200 people were arrested, including 50 women.

In the Ebshway district of Fayoum, the Muslim Brotherhood candidate Abdel Rahman Hassan Abdel Rahman and roughly 100 of his supporters were arrested and taken into custody at the Ebshway police precinct.

In the first district of Port Said, Muslim Brotherhood candidate Ahmed El-Kholani and 35 of his supporters were arrested as they were making rounds, checking the polling stations.

In the Qous district of Qena, 20 supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood candidate Hisham Ahmed were arrested.

In Wadi Al-Natroun district of Behayra, the Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohamed Shetat and a group of his supporters were arrested while demonstrating in the streets to protest their unlawful disenfranchisement.

In Bassioun district of Gharbiya, 5 Muslim Brotherhood supporters were arrested. 

Other Violations

ICEM observers report fierce campaigning in the close vicinity of the polling centers by all party and independent candidates. Likewise, NDP, opposition, independent candidate supporters and thugs remained present at the majority of the polling facilities and were intimidating voters. This form of illegal campaigning is one of the factors that continue to incite violence.

ICEM observers also reported that many opposition and Muslim Brotherhood candidate poll-watchers were denied access to the polling-stations.

There were also numerous reports of public vote-buying. For example in the Abu Al-Matameyar district of Al-Behayra vote-buying occurred in favor of the NPD candidate Hamdi Qoraytam. In Suez, in the Arbayeen district of Suez, the NDP candidate Ramdan Abu Al-Hassan was offering potential voters 20 pounds and a meal. In the Qutor district of Gharbiya, the poll-watchers of the NDP candidate Said Ateya were also seeking to purchase votes.

In Bandar Al-Fayoum district, there are reports of multiple voting by people who used chemicals to remove the indelible ink.

Inaccurate voting lists have continued to be a common occurrence in this round of the elections. Numerous reports indicated that voters’ lists had been altered

In the first district of Qena, at Al-Halafaweya Bahary School, voting was being conducted without proper identification. The secrecy of the ballot was also violated.


Independent Committee for Election Monitoring (ICEM)

 


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