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Protesters force Egypt poll panel to shut down office

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Protesters force Egypt poll panel to shut down office

Egypt's presidential elections commission has shut down its main office in Cairo after thousands of supporters of an Islamist contender protested.

"The commission members saw there was a danger to the lives of all those working inside the office and decided to evacuate it from the staff because there was no enough protection," said Hatem Bagatu, the secretary-general of the panel.

 He added that documents related to the election process and candidacies are kept inside the office.

The supporters of Hazem Salah Abu Esmail, an ultra-conservative Salafist presidential hopeful, late Friday rallied to the site of the commission in the eastern Cairo area of Heliopolis, shouting slogans against it in an anticipation of a decision to disqualify him.

Earlier this month, the commission said it was officially notified by the Egyptian Foreign Ministry that Abu Esmail's late mother was a US citizen.

Under the Egyptian constitution, presidential candidates, their parents and spouses must be only Egyptian citizens.

However, a Cairo court said earlier this week there was no evidence that Abu Esmail's mother had a dual citizenship.

His supporters have vowed to continue their strike outside the commission's office until it validates his presidential bid.

Known for his anti-US rhetoric, Abu Esmail, 50, is one of the strongest contenders in the May 23-24 vote, Egypt's first since Hosni Mubarak's overthrow in February last year.

The commission is expected to announce a final list of the eligible contestants late this month.








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