Sunday 22 October 2017

Candidates file complaints of vote violations in Egypt

Aya Batrawy in Cairo

THE three leading candidates in Egypt's presidential race filed appeals to the election commission ahead of the deadline yesterday alleging violations in the first-round vote.

The appeals, alleging fraud that the candidates say could change the outcome, are likely to inflame an already explosive race, with two of the most polarising candidates finishing first.

Preliminary results from last week's election placed Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohammed Morsi and Hosni Mubarak's last prime minister Ahmed Shafiq as the two candidates entering a June 16-17 runoff.

A total 13 candidates were on the ballot.

Young, liberal secularists who led the popular rebellion that overthrew long-time leader Mr Mubarak last year failed to place a candidate in the runoff.

A large portion of the vote -- more than 40pc -- went to candidates who were seen as more in the spirit of the uprising -- neither for the Brotherhood nor for the "feloul" or "remnants" of the old autocratic regime.

The so-called revolutionary votes were mostly divided among the candidates who placed third and fourth.

The top finisher, the Brotherhood's Mr Morsi, received only about 25pc of the vote, according to preliminary results.

Recount

Mr Shafiq, who placed second after Mr Morsi, said votes cast for him in one province were not included in the ballot count.

Hamdeen Sabahi, a socialist and a champion of the poor who made a surprisingly strong showing, called for a partial vote recount after he placed third by a margin of around 700,000 votes after Mr Shafiq.

Mr Sabahi's campaign said in a statement yesterday that its representatives met with the elections commission to request official results not be announced until the eligibility of voters in five provinces is reviewed.

Official first-round results are expected today or Tuesday.

"The difference between votes for us and votes cast for some of the other candidates is that ours are legitimate," Mr Sabahi said.

Abdel-Moneim Abolfotoh, a moderate Islamist who finished fourth, filed his appeal yesterday and also called for official results to be delayed. His lawyer said the campaign had proof that votes were cast on behalf of dead people, and in other cases, bribes were paid for votes.

Overall, the presidential election was considered the country's freest and most transparent in decades. Judges were present at each polling station. International and local monitors, as well as journalists and the candidates' representatives, were allowed to oversee the process in stark contrast to elections under Mr Mubarak.

Also yesterday, a criminal court convicted Mr Mubarak's former chief of staff Zakaria Azmi of corruption, sentencing him to seven years in prison and fining him $6m (€4.8m), Egypt's official news agency reported.

Irish Independent

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