Egypt: Low turnout as Egyptians vote in parliamentary elections amid fears over terror, economy | Associated Press

Egyptians trickled into mostly empty polling centers as they voted Sunday in the second stage of parliamentary elections that will produce the country’s first legislature since a chamber dominated by Islamists was dissolved by a court ruling in 2012. Tens of thousands of troops and policemen were deployed to safeguard the two-day vote, reflecting growing security concerns less than a month after a Russian airliner crashed in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, killing all 224 people on board. Russia has said the crash was caused by an onboard bomb, and a local Islamic State affiliate claimed the Oct. 31 attack. The attack led Russia to suspend flights to and from Egypt and Britain to cancel routes to the popular Sharm el-Sheikh resort, where the flight originated, dealing a major blow to Egypt’s tourism industry, which was already hurting from years of unrest.

Editorials: Egypt’s farcical elections | Middle East Eye

Egypt’s ongoing parliamentary elections – farcical in every sense, with a turnout so far of only 2 percent – are further proof that Egypt is witnessing the solidification of a quasi-authoritarian system of government, not a democratic revival. Most of Egypt’s new parliamentarians will be wealthy, elite, sympathetic to the nation’s current military president, and vehemently opposed to the Muslim Brotherhood, which governed Egypt during a brief democratic transition in 2012 and 2013. In short, this will be a rubber stamp parliament, one that will serve as a tool for – rather than a check against – Egypt’s current president, Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi. Al-Sisi recently passed a new election law that effectively cancels out the influence of Egypt’s political parties. According to the law, nearly 80 percent of parliamentary seats will be allotted to individuals. This individual system, which helped Egypt’s former dictator Hosni Mubarak consolidate power in the 1980s and 1990s, privileges wealthy elites with ties to the Egyptian establishment, of which Al-Sisi is a card-carrying member.

Egypt: Parliament story | Associated Press

Next week’s parliamentary elections are supposed to move Egypt closer to democracy and end a situation in which Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, first as the country’s strongman then as an elected president, has governed for more than two years with few apparent checks and balances. But with almost no effective opposition expected to run or make a mark, critics and analysts say the 596-seat legislature will be little more than a rubber stamp, leaving the former military chief free to power ahead with a high-octane, one-man campaign to revive the economy and influence the region while curbing opposition at home. The staggered vote, starting next week and continuing through December, will give Egypt its first elected legislature in more than three years. The resulting chamber will also signal the completion of the third and final stage of a political road map announced by el-Sissi himself when, as military chief, he led the July 2013 ouster of the nation’s first freely elected president, the Islamist Mohammed Morsi, following a wave of mass protests against Morsi’s rule.

Egypt: Parliamentary elections: ‘Who cares’? | Ahram Online

When he felt his vote would finally count after years of indifference, Mohamed Saad decided to cast his ballot in consecutive referendums and parliamentary and presidential elections after the popular uprising in 2011 renewed hope for a better future for Egypt. A little less than five years have passed and Saad lost his enthusiasm and passion. He realised that hope is a good breakfast, but a bad supper. “I won’t vote again; it’s useless. I will do nothing, absolutely nothing,” said the 25-year-old, who works in a travel agency in Downtown Cairo, referring to Egypt’s upcoming parliamentary elections that kick off 18 and 19 October after months of procrastination and legal wrangling. The election of Egypt’s House of Representatives will complete a roadmap drawn up following the 2013 ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi and return legislative powers from President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, but few feel the urgency left over from the days when heated political discussions yielded long voting queues and interesting debates over the credentials of potential lawmakers.

Egypt: Court defers parliamentary election: judicial sources | Reuters

An Egyptian court on Tuesday deferred a long-awaited parliamentary election due in March indefinitely after another court declared the election law’s provision on voting districts as unconstitutional, judicial sources said. Egypt has been without a parliament since June 2012, when a court dissolved the democratically elected main chamber, reversing a major accomplishment of the 2011 uprising that toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak. This delay prolongs a period in which President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has wielded sole legislative authority and slows Egypt’s progress towards democracy since its first freely elected president was ousted by the army in 2013.

Egypt: Presidential Election Set Amid Worry Over General’s Power | Wall Street Journal

Egypt’s military-backed government said it would hold presidential elections before a parliamentary vote, a reversal that stands to give the next president considerable legislative authority. That next leader looks increasingly likely to be the military’s chief, Gen. Abdel Fattah Al Sisi, who has indicated he is considering a bid for the nation’s highest office, buoyed by massive popular and political support. Few other potential candidates have emerged. Sunday’s decision changes the electoral schedule set by the military after it ousted Mohammed Morsi, Egypt’s first freely elected president, in July. The new sequence will put the nation’s next leader in a position to influence voters to back the parliamentary candidates he supports. The decision sets the stage for more clashes with the Muslim Brotherhood, the now-outlawed Islamist group from which the deposed president hailed. The Brotherhood on Sunday called for more demonstrations.

Egypt: Regime Claims Legitimacy on Vote | Wall Street Journal

The military-backed government portrayed a two-day referendum to amend the constitution that ended on Wednesday as an endorsement of its legitimacy. The draft constitution is expected to be approved following a well-financed “yes” campaign promoted by the government, businessmen and liberal political parties. Ehab Badawy, the spokesman for the interim president, Adly Mansour, wrote in an email Wednesday that millions had voted to demonstrate their “belief in democracy.” The referendum was boycotted by the Muslim Brotherhood, whose leaders were arrested after the July ouster of their leader, Islamist President Mohammed Morsi.

Egypt: Diaspora vote on new constitution | Al Jazeera

Just over a year ago, Egyptians living abroad voted in a referendum on a new constitution put forward by an elected Muslim Brotherhood-led government, which was ousted by the army last July following a period of violent unrest. Starting on January 8, thousands of people are expected to visit Egyptian embassies worldwide to cast ballots on another draft constitution. This one is supported by Egypt’s military-backed interim government, which – by banning Islamist parties and scrapping parts of the former government’s legislation – reflects the shift in power in Egypt. Expatriates will be able to vote until January 12, ahead of the referendum at home which is slated for January 14-15. “It’s essential that everyone votes in this referendum, whatever their vote may be,” said Sabry Fahmy, an Egyptian who lives in Doha, Qatar. “Whether it’s in favour of or against the constitution, your vote must be made. For us abroad, taking part in these polls has been one of our main gains from this saga.”  About 2.7 million Egyptians live outside the country, according to the International Organisation on Migration, but other reports peg the figure far higher – closer to eight million.

Egypt: Presidential election overshadowed by further army power grab and voter fraud claims | Telegraph

Few analysts were willing to predict the outcome of the battle between the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohammed Morsi and Ahmed Shafiq, a former general and aide to ex-President Hosni Mubarak, despite the Islamist movement’s long domination of the Egyptian street. The Brotherhood said opinion polls showed their man would win a free vote comfortably. But they also claimed that “fake voters” were appearing on polling station lists – dead people and members of the security forces, who in Egypt are supposed to remain neutral and are disqualified.

Egypt: High court nullifies parliamentary elections; calls for dissolution of parliament, raising new transition fears | The Washington Post

Egypt’s highest court ruled Thursday that the Islamist-dominated parliament should be dissolved because one-third of its members were elected unlawfully, blunting the astonishing political ascent of the Muslim Brotherhood and imperiling the country’s transition to democratic rule. The decision and a second one safeguarding the presidential candidacy of former prime minister Ahmed Shafiq quickly strengthened the hand of forces linked to Egypt’s old regime, and significantly raised the stakes of the weekend’s runoff vote between Shafiq and the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi.

Egypt: Presidential candidates file appeals to election commission, charging vote fraud | The Washington Post

Three top candidates in Egypt’s presidential race filed appeals to the election commission ahead of the deadline Sunday, alleging violations in the first round vote that they say could change the outcome. The appeals, alleging fraud, are likely to enflame an already explosive race, with two of the most polarizing 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. Thirteen candidates were on the ballot. Young, liberal secularists who led the popular rebellion that overthrew longtime leader Hosni Mubarak last year failed to place a candidate in the runoff.

Egypt: Mubarak verdict adds to tension before Egypt vote amid calls for more mass protests | Al-Arabiya

Egyptian activists called for mass demonstrations on Tuesday to protest against verdicts handed down in the strongman’s murder trial. The pro-democracy April 6 movement, the Coalition of Revolution Youth and the Maspero Youth Union among others called for a mass protest at 1500 GMT on Tuesday. Thousands of protesters gathered in Cairo’s iconic al-Tahrir Square late Sunday to protest the acquittals given to nine defendants in the major trial that sent former president Hosni Mubarak and his interior minister Habib al-Adly to jail for life. Demonstrators demanded the formation of a civilian presidential council including defeated candidates Abdul Moniem Abul Fotouh and Hamdeen Sabbahi united under the Muslim Brotherhood candidate, who is running in the elections run-off, Mohammed Mursi, Egypt’s daily al-Masry al-Youm reported. Protesters also called for the retrial of all defendants in the case and called for the Political Isolation Law to be applied to Ahmed Shafiq, who is competing against Mursi in the election run-off on June 16 and 17.

Egypt: Election commission denies Shafiq in first, weighs electoral appeals | Egypt Independent

The secretary general of the Presidential Elections Commission has denied rumors that Ahmed Shafiq garnered the most votes in the first round of the election held last week. “The counting is not yet complete,” Hatem Bagato told the website of the state-run newspaper Al-Ahram on Sunday, saying that the final results would not be announced before considering the five appeals submitted by presidential candidates. On Sunday, the election commission began to review the complaints over the poll, which has left Egyptians with a runoff choice between an Islamist apparatchik, Mohamed Morsy, and throwback candidate from the Hosni Mubarak era, Ahmed Shafiq. Both contenders seek to claim the mantle of the 25 January revolution, and are appealing to the many Egyptians who voted for more centrist figures in the first round.

Editorials: Egypt’s Polarizing Presidential Election | The Nation

Hours after the official results are announced in Egypt’s first-ever competitive presidential election, Ihab Badawi, a 28-year-old lawyer, is standing amid a throng of protesters in Tahrir Square. He holds aloft a cardboard placard bearing the smiling faces of the top two candidates—Mohamed Morsi and Ahmed Shafik—crossed out with a pair thick black Xs. Traffic snarls around the crowd as he echoes chants rising above the cacophony of angry car horns. “We do not accept this outcome,” Badwai says. “We are here to send a clear message to the military council and the rest of the corrupt ruling regime: the Egyptian people will not be silent.” Less than two miles away, a group of protesters breaks into and vandalizes Shafik’s campaign headquarters in the residential district of Dokki before setting it ablaze. Demonstrations erupt in other cities across the country, including Alexandria, Port Said, Ismailia and Suez. In the wake of the first round of Egypt’s landmark presidential election, the country is as polarized as ever, with two candidates sitting on opposite poles of a divide that has characterized Egyptian politics for decades.

Egypt: Egyptians Vote for President in Their First Free Elections |

Egyptians went to the polls Wednesday to choose their first freely elected president in a vote that could end 15 chaotic months of military rule and define the future of political Islam. It was a new climax in a cascade of scenes that would have been unthinkable just two years ago, when election days meant that state television would film former President Hosni Mubarak walking a red carpet to his special polling place in a predictably fraudulent plebiscite. But on Wednesday, millions of Egyptians waited patiently in long lines, often holding scraps of cardboard against the desert sun, and debated with their neighbors over which of the five leading contenders most deserved their vote. “It is like honey to my heart,” said Mohamed Mustafa Seif, 36, an accountant voting in downtown Cairo. “For the first time in my life, I feel like I have a role to play. My vote could possibly make a difference.”

Egypt: Hosni Mubarak Relatives Divided as Egyptians Take Stands on Historic Presidential Election | The Daily Beast

Across Egypt, the first free presidential election getting underway today is forcing people to take a stand on some of their society’s most divisive issues—sometimes defying their own spouses or other family members. For Basheer Mubarak, it can feel like he’s standing against nearly his entire town. The 37-year-old technician lives in Kafr El-Maselha, the birth place of Hosni Mubarak, where cousins of the ousted dictator—Basheer included—fill several buildings along a city block. Many of them pine for Mubarak’s return and back the candidate whose résumé most resembles his. But not Basheer. “What did he do for this country? It’s one big dump,” he says in the garage of his three-story building on Sadat Street, named for the autocrat, Anwar Sadat, who preceded Mubarak.

Egypt: Egyptians vote in first free presidential election | Acadiana’s News Leader

More than 15 months after autocratic leader Hosni Mubarak’s ouster, Egyptians streamed to polling stations Wednesday to freely choose a president for the first time in generations. Waiting hours in line, some debated to the last minute over their vote in a historic election pitting old regime figures against ascending Islamists. A sense of amazement at having a choice pervaded the crowds in line, along with fervent expectation over what direction a new leader will take a country that has been in turmoil ever since mass protests toppled the man who ruled with an iron fist for nearly 30 years. Some backed veterans of Mubarak’s regime, believing they can bring stability after months of rising crime, a crumbling economy and bloody riots. Others were horrified by the thought, believing the “feloul” – or “remnants” of the regime – will keep Egypt locked under autocracy and thwart democracy.

Egypt: Expats pleased to participate in elections | gulfnews

Fifteen months after the ouster of Hosni Mubarak, Egyptians overseas will go to the polls for a week from Friday to vote in a new president, amidst confusion whether the presidential elections will be suspended or not. Around 60,000 out of more than 300,000 Egyptians living and working in the UAE are registered to cast absentee ballots in Egypt’s embassy in Abu Dhabi and consulate in Dubai in the first free elections since Mubarak was ousted in February last year. It is estimated that more than eight million Egyptians are working and living abroad, but nearly 600,000 are registered voters overseas. On Wednesday, an Egyptian administrative court issued an unexpected ruling to suspend the presidential elections due later this month.

Egypt: Presidential elections: Who will clinch the expat vote? | Ahram Online

Egypt’s first post-revolution presidential poll will technically begin on Friday, as millions of Egyptians living abroad begin casting ballots for Egypt’s next head of state. Egyptians residing overseas, who number between five and six million, will cast votes for one of 13 approved candidates in Egypt’s first presidential election since the ouster early last year of longstanding president Hosni Mubarak. Many analysts say that Egyptian expatriates were not given enough time to study the candidates’ various electoral programmes, noting that they would begin voting only 12 days after the official launch of presidential campaigning. Many expats, meanwhile, are finding it difficult to follow candidates’ respective campaigns from abroad, or don’t possess the national identification cards required to cast ballots. After 30 years of Mubarak-era autocracy, during which most national elections were rigged, fair and democratic elections are a novelty for Egypt. The idea that their voices will actually count has stirred up strong feelings in many Egyptians, who espouse opinions as diverse as the candidates they are expected to vote for. And, according to various Ahram Online surveys, Egyptians living abroad are no different.

Egypt: Election Commission Allows Ahmed Shafiq, Mubarak’s PM, Back In Race | Huffington Post

A panel of fundamentalist Islamic clerics on Wednesday endorsed the candidate of the Muslim Brotherhood for president of Egypt, an attempt to prevent a split of the conservative Muslim voters. In another twist, Egypt’s election commission late Wednesday reinstated a candidate, a former regime official it disqualified just a day earlier, scrambling the projected voting even more. The ultraconservative endorsement boosted the Brotherhood candidate, Mohammed Morsi, who faces competition in next month’s election from a more moderate Islamist, Abdel-Moneim Abolfotoh, who broke ranks with the group. Support for Morsi came from the Jurisprudence Commission for Rights and Reform, a panel of clerics mostly from the ultraconservative Salafis and new Islamist parties, but also including a Brotherhood member. The decision was announced at a news conference in Cairo.

Egypt: Parliament votes to sideline Mubarak figures | The Associated Press

Egypt’s parliament has passed a bill that strips senior figures of ousted President Hosni Mubarak’s regime of their political rights for 10 years. Thursday’s vote is designed to stop Mubarak’s former spy chief and vice president, Omar Suleiman, from running in next month’s presidential election. The law would only come into effect if the military council that took over from Mubarak when he stepped down last year ratifies it. This is unlikely to happen before the election commission issues a final list of presidential candidates, which is expected later this month. Decisions of the election commission cannot be appealed. The law covers those who served in top posts, from the president down to leaders of his ruling party, during the 10 years prior to Mubarak’s ouster.

Egypt: Rulers lift block on Ayman Nour election bid | Reuters

Egypt’s military rulers on Wednesday lifted a ban preventing Ayman Nour from running for the presidency, opening the way for a presidential bid by the liberal politician who came a distant second to Hosni Mubarak in a 2005 election. Nour mounted the most serious challenge to Mubarak that year. He was sentenced a few months later to five years in prison on charges of forgery that were widely viewed as trumped up as part of a political vendetta. Under Egyptian law, a former convict cannot run for the presidency until five years after the end of their jail term – Nour was released in February 2009 on health grounds. But the pardon issued on Wednesday will allow him to run.

Egypt: On a mission to rebuild the country | BBC News

Presidential elections will be held in Egypt in May – the first since Hosni Mubarak was removed in last year’s popular uprising – and it looks as if the list of candidates will be a long one. Outside the office of the Presidential Election Commission, close to where President Mubarak used to have his residence, the candidates come out in a steady stream, brandishing the papers they need to begin their run for election to be the next president of Egypt. Sami Ibrahim Abdul Latif is a man of humble origins, from a simple village in the Nile Delta, wearing the traditional Egyptian galabeya. He scrapes a living reciting the Koran in graveyards. His programme is to support the poor – people like himself, he says. His campaign team consists just of himself. He has no campaign funds whatsoever.

Egypt: In U-turn, Egypt’s Brotherhood may bid for president | Reuters

The Muslim Brotherhood might make a policy U-turn and contest May’s presidential election, senior members said on Wednesday, as the group had yet to see a name among the declared candidates it was prepared to back. The Brotherhood, which dominated the first parliamentary vote after Hosni Mubarak’s ouster last year, had said it would not run in what is billed as Egypt’s first free and fair presidential race. The first round of voting is on May 23-24. The group instead said it would endorse one of the other candidates running. Analysts said the Brotherhood did not want to run to avoid alienating those in the electorate who are wary about Islamists sweeping the new political scene. But the Brotherhood has yet to declare support for any of the candidates who have lined up so far and who include Amr Moussa, a former Arab League chief who describes himself as a liberal nationalist, and Abdel Moneim Abol Fotoh, who was expelled from the Brotherhood when he defied the ban on running.

Egypt: Hundreds prepare candidacies as Egypt’s presidential election campaign kicks off | The Washington Post

At least 500 Egyptians have taken the first step to run for president, a sign of the excitement generated by the country’s first presidential elections in which the outcome is in doubt, election officials said on Wednesday. They said the 500 have obtained applications to officially declare their candidacy for the vote, which follows last year’s ouster of longtime authoritarian leader Hosni Mubarak. Beside known presidential hopefuls who have been seriously campaigning, the applicants included a wide range of obscure Egyptians in different professions like journalists, judges, lawyers and school teachers, they said. The election is scheduled for May 23-24. Independent applicants must secure the endorsement of 30 lawmakers or 30,000 people in at least 15 of Egypt’s 18 provinces in order to run. Applicants from political parties with at least one member in parliament are exempt from these endorsements. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media

Egypt: Egypt begins first ever free presidential elections |

The first ever free presidential elections in Egypt have begun, with candidates now able to submit their applications. Politicians from the era of the deposed president Hosni Mubarak, ex-military officers and moderate and hardline Islamists are expected to become the frontrunners in a vote due to start on 23 May. The elections follow decades of authoritarian rule, with all of the country’s former presidents elevated from the ranks of the military and usually approved by referendum.

Egypt: Voting begins for second round of Shura Council elections | Egypt Independent

The second round of elections for Egypt’s upper house, the Shura Council, began Tuesday. The end of this round, after runoffs, will mark the official conclusion of polling for Egypt’s first post-Hosni Mubarak Parliament, for which elections began in late November last year. Polling will be held on Tuesday and Wednesday in 14 governorates: Aswan, Beheira, Beni Suef, Giza, Ismailia, Kafr al-Sheikh, Luxor, Matrouh, Minya, Port Said, Qalyubiya, Sharqiya, Sohag and Suez.

Egypt: Egypt Speeds Preparation for Presidential Vote | ABC News

Egypt’s military leader told electoral officials Monday to speed preparations for presidential elections after a new eruption of street protests demanding that the ruling generals move more quickly to hand power to an elected government. The military rulers had previously promised to hold presidential elections for their successor by the end of June. But Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, the head of the ruling military council, asked election commission officials “to quickly finish legal procedures for presidency nominations,” according to Egypt’s state-run news agency MENA. Election Commission Chief Abdel-Moez Ibrahim told The Associated Press that based on Tantawi’s orders, nominations for president would be accepted March 10, a month earlier than the original date. He didn’t give a date for elections, but it was an indication that the vote may be held about a month ahead of schedule.

Egypt: Egypt’s ElBaradei Ends Bid for Presidency, Citing Continued Autocracy |

Nobel Peace laureate Mohamed ElBaradei on Saturday withdrew his candidacy from Egypt’s coming presidential race in protest over the autocratic governance that has persisted under Egypt’s post-revolutionary military leadership. Though Mr. ElBaradei wasn’t considered among the top contenders for presidential elections scheduled for this spring, his global stature makes his pullout a symbolic blow to the military leadership and its often faltering stewardship of the country’s transition to democracy.

Egypt: Islamists ahead as Egypt vote enters final leg | Reuters

Islamists aimed to cement control over Egypt’s lower house of parliament as a final phase of voting began on Tuesday, while a secular party’s plan to boycott elections for the upper chamber threatened to weaken the liberal bloc. Banned under Hosni Mubarak, the Muslim Brotherhood has emerged as a major winner from the uprising that toppled him, exploiting a well-organised support base in the first free legislative vote in decades.