Egyptians await the outcome of a parliamentary run-off meant to end weeks of instability, but reports of violence and accusations of voter intimidation and rigged results have created an atmosphere of tension and fear.
Muslim Brotherhood candidates have proved to be the greatest threat in a tight race that has triggered conflict amid simmering tension between MB and NDP supporters.
The latest tally has revealed that 9 citizens have been killed and tens injured, during the course of the day mainly at the hands of baton and knife wielding thugs while tear gas bombs were used by security forces to disperse supporters stationed outside polling stations where results were being counted. Family members of MB candidate, Saad Husseini, were among the victims rushed to hospital after assaults outside the stations.
Although a few expected the elections to be fair, many irregularities have been reported. A common complaint about Election Day included citizens being blocked from voting and other irregularities by independent monitors included police intimidation, ballot stuffing, and bribery. Independent monitors wielding government accreditation said police officials barred them from entering the polling stations. In some constituencies trucks of police stood ready in opposition strongholds. And in some areas plainclothes police and representatives of the NDP ruling party restricted the voters who could come inside. Violations effecting online monitoring included the Muslim Brotherhood’s online portal being blocked by three of the major internet providers in Egypt.
As counting began, groups of NDP supporters and thugs gathered outside many polling stations, however, party representatives were prevented from going to some poll counting stations and attempts were made to disperse crowds of MB and other political opposition.
Since the start of the vote, MB candidates stress they have witnessed systematic blocking and irregularities, plus the accustomed rigging that will affect the credibility of the vote.
A successful although unlikely poll given the events of the day would have paved the way for reforms. According to analysts the regime of aging President Hosni Mubarak has cracked down even harder than usual during the run up to the polls against the political opposition mainly from the MB group in an effort to tighten the party's grip on power ahead of the presidential bid in 2011 and the succession process that awaits when the 82-year-old president no longer holds office.