Voting irregularities at Helwan, Hadayek El-Kobba polls in Eqypt
EGYPT, Cairo : An Egyptian man checks for the name of his wife at the entrance of a polling station in Cairo on November 28, 2010, as polls opened across Egypt for a parliamentary election expected to strengthen the ruling party's grip in the most populous Arab nation but marred by a crackdown on the Islamist opposition.
Araby Farouq Mashhour, a representative of MP candidate Gomaa El-Badawy in El-Saf, explained that even though he had a general power of attorney (POA), he was told at the polling station that it has to be stamped in either a security directorate or a police station, neither of which consented to do so.
Mashhour alleged that special POAs were only given to representatives of National Democratic Party (NDP) candidates, and that El-Badawy was only able to obtain 16 special POAs despite having originally applied for 400.
POAs allow candidate representatives to be present inside the polling stations as votes are cast and counted.
He also alleged that a state security investigations officer, Atef El-Hosseiny, prevented representatives of Muslim Brotherhood candidates from entering polling stations. El-Hosseiny told Daily News Egypt that this was not true.
Daily News Egypt, together with an election monitor from the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights (EOHR), was also prevented from entering a polling station after being told that permission to enter must be given by the director of the polling station's constituency.
However, El-Hosseiny allowed both Daily News Egypt and the EOHR monitor into a polling station in the same constituency less than two minutes away, despite still not having permission from that constituency's director.
Upon entering the polling station, there were absolutely no voters and, at 11 am, the two ballot boxes contained only a few votes. A reporter for Daily News Egypt was instructed by El-Hosseiny to leave the station after approximately five minutes.
Elections observers reported at approximately 5 pm that the police had closed nine polling stations in El-Saf constituency.
In Helwan, hundreds of supporters of independent People's Assembly (PA) candidate Mostafa Bakry congregated outside a polling station. Voters were permitted to enter the polling station in small groups, according to a police officer on the scene, in order to prevent overcrowding.
At a polling station in Hadayek El Kobba, Cairo, it was alleged that an NDP supporter was apprehended while possessing multiple ballots in favor of the NDP, which he planned to place in the ballot box.
Essam El-Dib — a PA candidate for Hadayek El Kobba who is representing a party that is officially boycotting the election, Al-Ghad Party — said that "fraud began at 8 am" when the head of the Hadayek El Kobba police station refused to give POAs to candidates' representatives so that they could enter the polling stations. El-Dib stated that NDP candidates' representatives, however, were allowed to enter polling stations.
El-Dib responded by filing a complaint with the police and staging a two-hour sit-in inside the police station.
Gharib El-Sayed, another Hadayek El Kobba PA hopeful who is running as an independent candidate, said that the government is running the elections "with an iron fist" by closing polling stations and preventing voters from casting their ballots.
"If the NDP wants to do things this way, why doesn't it just appoint MPs?" El-Sayed asked. "There are no elections. It's all fraud, fraud, fraud."
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