Live updates: Elections commission receives reports of campaign violations
Egyptians are voting today for the first president after the 25 January uprising. More than 50 million citizens across Egypt’s 27 governorates are eligible to vote, choosing from 11 candidates. The contest is considered wide open. Egypt Independent will be bringing you live updates throughout the day.
3:00pm: While voters around the country report various motivations for theirchoices, many are saying that they have one main concern: Keeping Ahmed Shafiq and Amr Moussa, both ministers under the fallen regime, out of office.
“I voted for Hamdeen,” said Ramy Salah, a 20-year-old voter in Haram. “There is no way I am going to vote for feloul and, in my mind, the Freedom and Justice Party, who are also murders.”
At another polling station in Haram, Lotfy al-Sayed, 17, stood holding a sign that said “Feloul murdered Egypt.”
“I’m here to remind people that Shafik was in office when our youth were being murdered and that Moussa said said he would have voted for Mubarak. My friend was shot in the gut during the revolution. I’m here to remind people not to let our you have died in vain.”
While holding his sign, Lotfy was told to leave by an angry voter and army soldiers. “But the other people in line protected me and told the soldiers that this was my right, so the soldiers let me stay.”
At the Qayt Bey Preparatory School in downtown Alexandria, an elderly couple from the informal area Tabya said they are supporting Abouel Fotouh because he is “a clean and honest man who will attempt to bring real change.”
Hekmat Fahim, another Tabya resident, said, "How can Shafiq and Moussa have the guts to run when we know how much they corrupted this country while staying loyal to the regime that they were apart of?”
“Where is the social justice? I can guarantee that if they win, their fates will be like [Mubarak] we will have another revolution.”
2:30 pm: Violations across candidates’ campaigns have been reported.
The Presidential Elections Commission says it has received a complaint that Shafiq held a press conference outside a polling station in violation of campaigning regulations and the period of election silence. The commission says it would examine the complaint and refer it to the Public Prosecution if it finds evidence to uphold the accusations.
Al-Masry Al-Youm reports that voters in the Kafr al-Sheikh area have received LE150 and a meal in return for voting for former Arab League chief Amr Moussa. A witness says Moussa’s campaigners have asked some voters to monitor the process in Messir village throughout the day.
In Bahary in downtown Alexandria, two veiled women, one wearing a face veil, were stopping people by Qait Bay Preparatory School to tell them they should vote for Morsy. A shop owner from the area who says he is voting for Nasserist candidate Hamdeen Sabbahi yelled at and argued with them.
Buses drove by polling stations, yelling at bystanders to vote for Moussa. Inside the polling station, a policeman confirmed that security had made members of the Freedom and Justice Party move away from the polling station because they were attempting to influence voters.
In Ezbet al-Mattar area, the Muslim Brotherhood had bused voters to their respective polling stations in several areas in Alexandria. Fast-food meals were also given out, as witnessed by Egypt Independent. Former Brotherhood member Abdel Moneim Abouel Fotouh campaigners in Alexandria have been handing out fliers with his name, as well as cards on which people can fill in their names and ID numbers so that they are helped to find their polling stations. The same was witnessed in Giza.
An Abouel Fotouh campaigner in Baharmos town in Giza, Emad Eddin Ali, told Egypt Independent that supporters of Brotherhood candidate Mohamed Morsy had been telling female voters that if they vote him they would “go to heaven.” He was interrupted by a man on a motorbike who called him a liar.
Four official complaints were filed against Abouel Fotouh, former Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq, Moussa, Morsy and Sabbahi campaigners.
2:00 pm: A 30-year-old Navy captain died in a traffic accident Wednesday morning while heading to Rashid City to secure the polling stations there. He was taken to the Mabarat al-Asafera Hospital at the Muntazah Police Station with a suspected skull fracture and internal bleeding. He later died at the hospital.
The captain’s body was transferred to the Ras al-Teen Marine Hospital morgue.
1:00 pm: Many voters interviewed by Egypt Independent in and outside of Cairo say they support either Mohamed Morsy or Amr Moussa.
Male and female lines are long at Ibrahimiya School in the affluent district of Garden City. An army lieutenant came in to check on the polling booths but left within 30 seconds of going in. Heba Ahmed Attiya, 37, a translator who lives in Maadi, came with her aunt and is voting for Moussa.
“Voting today is the best thing to have happened since the revolution — that elections have actually happened,” she says.
She says she came to a decision about who to vote for through an exclusion process, looking at who she doesn’t want and who remains.
“I didn’t look at platforms because anyone can make a perfect platform but not execute it. I looked at the CV and looked at who has the most successful experience so far,” she says.
Some voters waiting in line say they were not sure who to vote for. Ghada Hashem, who teaches in the medical faculty at Cairo University, says she has no idea who she is voting for and would make her choice on the spot in front of the voting paper.
“No one has shown me they have the resources to achieve social justice,” Hashem says.
In the Haram area in Giza at Naguib Mahfouz Elementary School, Sanaa Ibrahim, 36, said that she would vote for Morsy.
“I believe he is a good man, and he is backed by a strong party. God knows with everything that’s going on, we need a president who has strong support,”Ibrahim says.
But there is no agreement over Morsy in the area. Amany Hassan, 26, says she wouldn’t vote for Morsy.
“I am not against Islam, which is why I won’t vote for Morsy. Anyone but him — I’d vote for Obama before Morsy,” Hassan says.
The Morsy-Moussa binary carries on outside of Cairo. In Minya’s Abu Hilal village, where a lot of polling stations witnessed a low turnout, Morsy’s supporters deployed with laptops. Ahmed Moatamed, the representative of Islamist candidate Mohamed Selim al-Awa in the village, says the military police dispersed Morsy campaigners in front of a polling station when he complained. Some voters complained they couldn’t cast their ballots because their names were missing from the list, even though they had found their names listed online.
In Suez, a low turnout has also prevailed. Egypt Independent’s reporter toured various polling stations where there were barely any voting lines. In one of the Suez polling stations at Salah Nessim School in Etaqa neighborhood, Mohamed Saeed, who voted for Moussa, says he doesn’t think the election would solve the country’s problems or achieve stability. But he says he hopes Moussa is strong enough to do it. Meanwhile, in the same area, campaigners for Morsy and Sabbahi stood outside the polling stations, convincing voters to support their candidates.
12:30 pm: In Fatma Anan School in the Fifth Settlement, New Cairo, campaigners for Morsy blocked Moussa from entering the polling station because of the large number of local and foreign reporters accompanying him.
Scuffles broke out between groups of campaigners and photographers, and military police divided them.
Mahdi Akef, former Brotherhood supreme guide, voted in one of the polling stations in the Fifth Settlement neighborhood. Al-Masry Al-Youm reported that Akef, 84, didn’t manage to stand in line with other voters and sat on a chair, waiting for his turn.
Akef said last April that he prayed to God that the Brotherhood would not win the presidential election, adding that the presidency would be a huge burden for the Brotherhood if their candidate wins the election.
In the rural area of Minya, turnout remained low. Judges cracked down on any campaigning in or around the polling station, and an employee with a badge reading “queue organizer” allowed three people in at a time. Most waiting in line said they were voting for either Morsy or former Brotherhood member Abdel Moneim Abouel Fotouh.
In Mahalla, voters filled the polling stations. Egypt Independent witnessed few violations, though a few Abouel Fotouh campaigners were making rounds in the area.
Ayman Kamal, 20, an engineering student voting in Sayeda Zeinab neighborhood in Cairo, was proud to be casting his first presidential ballot.
“For the first time everyone has a voice and opinion about who they want to vote for,” he said. “I voted for Hamdeen [Sabbahi] because he expresses the views of all Egyptians, not just a particular group, including the poor, workers and farmers.”
11:30 am: Polling stations in Mansoura, the capital of Daqahlia Governorate, are crowded, with some voters feeling frustrated by long waits.
Still, many voters in Mansoura are still unsure which candidate they will vote for and are asking other voters nearby for advice.
In the Cairo neighborhood of Heliopolis, a female voter in Kawekeb School complained about not being sure who to vote for. She said she is interested in voting for Morsy but also heard that Abouel Fotouh is a good option.
“I guess I will go in and decide on the spot,” she said.
Confusion and uncertainty are also on display, not just about which candidate is the best choice. In the Sayeda Zeinab neighborhood in Cairo, Mohy Eddin Abdel Aziz Gad, 71, says the Presidential Elections Commission’s website gave him the wrong voter ID number and polling station information, which delayed his ability to cast his vote.
11:00 am: Candidates have started casting their ballots.
Abdel Moneim Abouel Fotouh has cast his vote at Ibn al-Nafees Preparatory School in Nasr City, Reuters reports.
Amr Moussa arrived at the polling station at Fatma Anan School in the Fifth Settlement, New Cairo, at 8:30 am, according to Al-Masry Al-Youm. He waited in line for an hour and a half to cast the ballot. Moussa said he would accept whatever outcome the election brings, describing the polls as an important lesson in democracy.
“Egyptians should have good judgment in selecting the person who would shape Egypt’s future over the next period,” Moussa said. “We are up to the challenge.”
In the same line, four young voters hoisted posters of protesters killed in the Maspero violence when the military forcibly dispersed a mostly Coptic march next to the state TV building last October, and the clashes near the Interior Ministry last November between Central Security Forces and demonstrators, and other incidents of violence that marred Egypt in the last months.
“Those people sacrificed their lives to elect a candidate who represents the revolution rather than one who is affiliated with the old regime,” one voter said, warning the rest against electing Moussa.
Similarly, leftist lawyer Khaled Ali was photographed by El Badil news website standing in line to cast his vote.
Al-Masry Al-Youm also reported that People’s Assembly Speaker and Muslim Brotherhood leader Saad al-Katatny arrived at a polling station in 6th of October City to cast his ballot. He entered the polling station quickly but later was asked by one of the voters to go back to the end of the line. Katatny agreed to return back, with voters clapping for him. He told reporters while waiting that the winner of this election — whether he is the Brotherhood’s candidate or any other candidate — would be a choice that reflects the will of the people. He added that the people’s choice should be respected.
Meanwhile, voters continued to flock to polling stations around Cairo.
In Sayeda Zeinab, hundreds of people showed up to vote. Mohamed Selim Mohamed, 22, a business graduate from Cairo University who wants to work as a stock broker but is now working in a restaurant, is voting for Ahmed Shafiq, who served as prime minister under Hosni Mubarak’s regime.
“I heard many opinions and debates before making my decision two days ago about who to vote for. My conscience is now clear and settled with the choice I’ve made,” he said. “The most important thing for the coming period is security. Security will come through the law. The police will come under the law and deal with citizens in a legal way. After this tourism has to come back to Egypt and then education needs to improve so that Egypt will become like Turkey, Malaysia and Singapore.”
Mohamed added that Shafiq’s history distinguished him and, though some say he was implicated in the Battle of Camel, if that is true, he would come under the law.
“I doubt the law will be above him, given that Mubarak is in prison,” Mohamed says.
In Dar al-Salaam, at a school compound, a female observer let two campaigners help people find their polling stations.
“As long as you’re not from the Brotherhood or feloul [remnants of the old regime],” she said.
In Shubra at the Tawfikeya Secondary School, a line of male voters waited patiently in the shade to cast their ballot. There is a large security presence, comprising military troops and military police as well as regular police.
Tarek Emad, a voter in the line, said, “It’s an important day — the first time I’m voting because for once we don’t know who will win. What I hope is that there is no problems by supporters of failed candidates and accept the result. I will vote for Amr Moussa because I feel he is the most suited for the upcoming period, and after that any other candidate. The important thing is to come out of this current phase to safety,” he said.
Outside of Cairo, voters’ turnout ranged between low and moderate so far.
In villages surrounding the Upper Egyptian city of Sohag, where more than 2 million citizens are eligible to vote, low turnout was reported in the morning since the polls opened at 8 am. The urban centers, meanwhile, witnessed longer lines of voters. In a polling station in one of the villages surrounding Sohag, the lack of supplies of phosphoric ink and locks for the ballot boxes caused the judge in charge to keep the station closed.
In the coastal Red Sea Governorate, home to more than 200,000 voters, moderate turnout was reported. Joint police and army forces are securing the vote.
10:30 am: Waits appear to be getting longer at some polling stations.
At Al-Taliaa Preparatory Boys School in Sayeda Zeinab, hundreds of voters are lined up to enter the school. A few voters complained they were assigned the wrong number, but overall the process seemed to be going smoothly.
In Dar al-Salaam, some voters complained about the long waits.
“The only problem is that they’ve rounded up all the old people and given them the same station to vote in,” said Maghoub Ali, 64.
Voters seemed divided between Moussa and Abouel Fotouh, and were not hesitant to discuss the candidate they were casting their ballots for.
“We don’t want to be experimenting with the presidency,” said Ghada Mohamed, a 43-year-old schoolteacher voting in Basateen, a neighborhood in southern Cairo. “Moussa has his flaws but he is the lesser of evils.”
10:00 am: Turnout so far appears to be low.
Polling stations in Suez are largely empty. There is a very short line outside of the Sayeda Aisha School in the central Arbaeen district. At a polling station at the Ahmed Oraby Elementary School in Cairo’s Dar al-Salaam neighborhood, Moez Mohamed Nour, an election observer, said, “So far things have gone smoothly, but I’m disappointed with the low turnout. But I am expecting more people in the afternoon and tomorrow, since it’s Thursday, which a lot of people have off.”
Polling stations in Giza and Heliopolis are free of long lines, according to Egypt Independent correspondents.
There have been some minor irregularities. Ahmed Abul Amayem, the judge supervising the polling station at Sayeda Aisha School in Suez, said that half of the employees who were supposed help run the polls have not yet arrived. He opened the polling station with the employees available to him. At the Ali Mubarak School in the Cairo neighborhood of Marg, voting began more than 15 minutes late after the Mohamed Morsy campaign sent 11 observers to the polling station instead of the prescribed number, two.
Local watchdog Activists without Borders has said in a statement that some of its activists reported members of the Muslim Brotherhood have been trying to influence voters. The statement added that the Brotherhood’s supporters are standing outside the polling station, trying to convince voters to vote for Mohamed Morsy.
9:30 am: Egypt Independent’s correspondent in Suez reports that most polling stations in that city are still empty.
State-run news agency MENA reports that one female voter has filed a complaint against an employee at a polling station in Nasr City. She said the employee told her she should vote for Morsy. The judges in the polling station decided immediately to dismiss the employee, MENA says.
8:00 am: Polling stations, which are usually held in schools and are divided according to gender, officially open. Lines have already begun to form.
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