Egypt: Egypt’s 97.7 Per Cent: If Everyone Votes Yes, Is It Democracy? | The New Yorker

“Egypt is the gift of the Nile for Egyptians and the gift of Egyptians to humanity.” Thus begins the new Egyptian constitution, which, according to preliminary results, was approved by 97.7 per cent of voters this week. The percentage of voters who didn’t read the full document probably also ranges well above ninety—in conversations with many Cairenes, I met only one person who said he had read the whole thing. It’s hard to blame the others. The constitution opens with a strange, rambling preamble that in translation stretches for more than thirteen hundred words, mentioning, in the following order, Allah, Moses, the Virgin Mary, Jesus, the Prophet Muhammad, Muhammad Ali Pasha, Refaa the Azharian, Ahmed Orabi, Mostafa Kamel, Mohamed Farid, Saad Zaghloul, Mostafa el-Nahhas, Talaat Harb, and Gamal Abdel Nasser. The Nile inundates three of the first six sentences. It’s a preamble to everything—not just the constitution but human civilization itself: “In the outset of history, the dawn of human consciousness arose and shone forth in the hearts of our great ancestors, whose goodwill banded together to found the first central State that regulated and organized the life of Egyptians on the banks of the Nile.”

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: Egypt election run-off sparks protests |

The campaign headquarters of one of Egypt’s two presidential hopefuls was stormed by a mob and set alight on Monday night, as thousands protested the results of the first round of the country’s presidential election. The elections committee had earlier in the day confirmed that Ahmed Shafiq, who was named prime minister by ousted president Hosni Mubarak in the dying days of his regime, would face the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi in the second-round run-off. It is a contest between the two most polarising and controversial figures in the race. The committee also said it had rejected appeals against the first round of voting that had alleged a number of violations of election law, including mistakes in counting votes.

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: Army hastens end of parliamentary election | Reuters

Egypt’s army rulers issued a decree on Sunday to hasten the conclusion of parliamentary elections after deadly clashes in Cairo last month raised pressure for a quicker handover to civilian control. Final run-offs to the assembly’s upper house will end on February 22 instead of March 12 as previously planned, the ruling military council said in a statement, and the house will hold its first sitting on February 28.

Fifty-nine people were killed in confrontations in late November and December between security forces and protesters demanding the military leave power sooner. Many Egyptians voiced outrage at video footage of soldiers beating men and women after they had already collapsed on the ground, some dragging a female protester by her black full-body veil, exposing her bra then clubbing and kicking her.

Egypt: Report highlights electoral commission blunders in first round | Daily News Egypt

According to a report issued Wednesday by the Egyptian Coalition for Election Observation, the Supreme Electoral Commission (SEC) did not posses the required tools to effectively supervise Egypt’s first post-Mubarak elections. “The members of the SEC were only assigned their tasks for the duration of the elections and the security organization was affiliated to the interior ministry and the armed forces,” said Ahmed Abdel Hafez, vice head of the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights (EOHR), member of the coalition.

Abdel Hafez added that the SEC only issued the policies that regulate the electoral process but could not practically apply the law or penalize those who committed violations during the electoral process. According to Ghada Shahbandar, board member of the EOHR, the SEC itself had committed the highest rate of violations. “The SEC was not ready to oversee the elections and we called upon it more than once to postpone the polls in light of clashes in Tahrir Square between protesters and security forces,” she said.

Egypt: Election turnout 62 percent, protesters honour dead | Reuters

More than eight million Egyptians voted in the opening round of their first free vote in six decades in what the election chief said Friday was a turnout of 62 percent, far higher than in the rigged polls of deposed President Hosni Mubarak. The Muslim Brotherhood’s party and its ultra-conservative Salafi rivals looked set to top the polls, to the alarm of many at home and abroad. Moderate Islamists have won elections in Tunisia and Morocco in the past two months.

The emergence of ambitious Salafi parties is one of the starkest measures of change in post-Mubarak Egypt. The world is watching the election for pointers to the future in Egypt, the most populous Arab nation and one hitherto seen as a firm U.S. ally committed to preserving its peace treaty with Israel and fighting Islamist militancy.

Egypt: Elections: few incidents, many women at polling stations | Asia News

In Cairo, Alexandria and other governorates 9 the second day of voting for the lower house of parliament opens. Yesterday the turnout at the polls was higher than expected with queues several hundreds of meters long, especially in the most popular districts of the city. In Alexandria in many seats more women voted than men, according to some a sign of the desire for participation in the construction of the new Egypt.

Despite the peaceful environment, sources tell AsiaNews of arguments and attempts to influence the vote by the Muslim Brotherhood. Most incidents occurred in women’s polling stations, where women dressed in the nijab invited others to vote for the Islamist formation. In Cairo’s most populated areas members of radical Muslim parties distributed packages with sugar, salt, oil, engraved with the program and the candidate to vote to people in line. This had already occurred during the referendum on the March 19 constitution.

Egypt: Military rulers reject demands to leave | The Globe and Mail

Egypt’s military rulers rejected protester demands for them to step down immediately and said Thursday they would start the first round of parliamentary elections on time next week despite serious unrest in Cairo and other cities.

The ruling military council insisted it is not the same as the old regime it replaced, but the generals appear to be on much the same path that doomed Hosni Mubarak nine months ago — responding to the current crisis by delivering speeches seen as arrogant, mixing concessions with threats and using brutal force.

Egypt: Ganzouri to become Egypt’s prime minister, military says | CNN

Several planned demonstrations in Egypt Friday could test whether the nation besieged by recent violent clashes can remain peaceful.The area around Cairo’s Tahrir Square was eerily calm early Friday morning. There were no protesters and only security forces could be seen near Tahrir Square.

Since Saturday, protesters have clashed with police near the Cairo square, the epicenter of the movement that led to Mubarak’s ouster as president nine months ago. Among other demands, they have called for the interim military rulers step down. But the situation seemed to calm down Thursday after soldiers came to the area an erected barbed wire barricades to separate protesters from police.

Egypt: Military rulers reject calls to step down | Connecticut Post

Egypt’s military rulers rejected protester demands for them to step down immediately and said Thursday they would start the first round of parliamentary elections on time next week, despite serious unrest in Cairo and other cities.

The ruling military council insisted it is not the same as the old regime it replaced, but the generals appear to be on much the same path that doomed Hosni Mubarak nine months ago — responding to the current crisis by delivering speeches seen as arrogant, mixing concessions with threats and using brutal force.

Egypt: Protesters call for postponement of elections | The Guardian

Egyptian protesters want elections scheduled for Monday to be postponed and a council of elders to replace the military rulers who on Wednesday again sent in security forces to quell demonstrating crowds. The current protests are seen as a second – and decisive – phase of the January revolution that led to the overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak. In the symbolic heart of the revolution, Tahrir Square, demonstrators were chanting the same slogans used 11 months ago, but this time directing them at the interim military ruler, Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi.

“If the wheels of democracy move on Egypt and this problem is still here, then democracy will have failed,” said Ikramy Esayed. “Next Monday is very important for Egypt, but not because [the poll] should be held, but because we should acknowledge that this is not the time.” A second man, Nashad Bishara, agreed. “It is unsuitable now to hold elections,” he said. “For those who love Egypt stability must be established first. The truth is the army doesn’t want elections.”

Saudi Arabia: Municipal Elections: Tough Lessons Learned from Islamic Conservatives | Eurasia Review

The Sept. 29 municipal elections in Saudi Arabia mark the second round of polling in six years and the third in almost 50 years. The latest scheduled elections ostensibly will bring Saudis closer to developing democratic ideals espoused in the West. However, the elections also have prompted criticism from Saudi activists who assert that the electoral system prevents half the population from representation by denying women the right to vote and that it gives an edge to religious conservatives.

The September elections followed a voter registration drive in May and a short period through early June that permitted candidates to register their campaigns. Ultimately, voters will go to the polls in September to elect men to 1,632 seats in 258 municipal elections. Half the municipal council seats throughout the Kingdom are appointed by royal decree. In 2005, 1,212 seats were open on 179 councils. Saudi authorities have banned women from voting or registering as candidates.

Egypt: Army warned of election delay | The Egyptian Gazette

Muslim fundamentalists are warning that they are ready to shed their blood in Tahrir Square, if the Military Council decides to delay parliamentary elections due in November. Egypt’s fundamentalists have also announced September 27 as the date for an end to the transitional period in post-revolution Egypt.

Since President Hosni Mubarak was ousted on February 11, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces has been ruling the nation; it is also responsible for supervising the transfer of power to a civil government and an elected president.

It was the Muslim Brotherhood, who threw down the gauntlet to the army generals during a mass rally organised in Alexandria, widely regarded as a bastion for Egypt’s fundamentalists and Salafis (ultra-fundamentalists).

Egypt: Egypt hit by new wave of protests as military postpones election |

Egypt’s first democratic parliamentary elections look set to be postponed until November, amid a growing standoff between the ruling military council and protesters who believe their revolution is being betrayed.

The vote was initially scheduled to take place in September, causing concern among many nascent political parties who claim they have not had enough time to prepare since the fall of the former president Hosni Mubarak in February, which ended more than half a century of one-party rule.

Many activists argue that an early poll would only benefit those forces which already boast a strong organisational capacity – namely the Muslim Brotherhood and local remnants of Mubarak’s NDP party – and some have called for a new constitution to be written before any parliamentary ballot takes place.