Egyptian women wait in line to cast their votes outside a polling station in Cairo, Egypt, Tuesday, May 27, 2014 (Photo: AP)
Hazel Haddon, Ayat Al-Tawy, Salma Shukrallah, Marina Barsoum, Mariam Rizq, Jamie Craggy, Hatem Maher, Hala Ahmed, Kevin Dean, Tuesday 27 May 2014 / Ahram Online
Tuesday declared a public holiday and voting extended until Wednesday in an effort to drive up voter turnout, which reports say is down
21:10 Polling stations have closed across Egypt. Voting resumes tomorrow morning at 9am.
21:05 And now the statement we’ve been waiting for fromSabahi’s campaign regarding the PEC’s decision to extend the election by a third day.
“The campaign thinks there are no justifications or real grounds for the extension decision but that it’s a response to pressures … to interfere in the figures of the turnout and voting particularly, amid a noticeable rise in violations and irregularities,” the statement said.
The campaign added that many of its representative have been banned or detained, which it says has largely affected its monitoring of the vote.
The campaign has strongly called for a ballot count of the Monday and Tuesday votes.
21:00 One of Sabahi’s campaign members, Mohamed El-Weify, tells Ahram Online that over 30 of the campaign’s representatives have been detained by police and pushed out of voting stations and not allowed back inside. The representatives were told they can’t monitor polling stations on the extra day of voting on Wednesday because their permits would be expired, Weify said.
20:55 An online Twitter campaign has emerged calling for Sabahi to withdraw from the election following the PEC’s decision to extend the vote for an extra day. The hashtag “Withdraw_Hamdeen” has been trending worldwide as of Tuesday night.
20:50 Ahram Online’s Passant Darwish visits a polling station in Sheikh Zayed City, around 30 km outside of Cairo, and finds a moderate turnout and hard-working officials.
Around 2,700 out of 6,113 registered voters turned up to vote, Darwish says. She saw less than a dozen voters when she visited earlier. However, the centre’s supervising judge says the turnout is still bigger than what he saw in the morning.
Regarding the decision to extend the election by another day, the judge said: “It’s tiring, but all for the sake of Egypt.”
Sabahi’s representative at the station, Nahed Ahmed Mokhtar, criticised the PEC’s decision, saying that authorities did not take the human factor into consideration when adding a third day of voting.
“These people have been working tirelessly over the two electoral days,” Mokhtar said. “They’ve had little sleep, working through the election hours with no substitutes, and now they have to work an additional day.”
“The election dates have been set for some time now and they can’t just extend them because they don’t like the voter turnout,” Mokhtar said.
Meanwhile, a mother and daughter at the station told Darwish that they both spoilt their ballots. The mother, a woman in her forties who wanted to be identified as Mrs. Adel, said she supported the 30 June revolution but wanted other candidates than the two running the election.
Both the mother and the daughter said Sabahi wasn’t an option.
The mother said she debated voting for El-Sisi, but changed her mind and spoilt her vote, even though her husband and son have voted for the former military chief.
The daughter, on the other hand, said she couldn’t vote for El-Sisi as “he’s another military man.”
20:20 Sabahi’s campaign says that El-Sisi’s campaign has held not less than five rallies in the Upper Egyptian governorate of Qena, a violation of the official campaign silence currently in effect.
The accusations allege that El-Sisi’s campaign played music at polling stations and handed out cold water to voters.
Sabahi’s campaign also says that it’s preparing a report of the violations that happened at several polling stations in the city of Nag Hammadi, where illiterate ladies were allegedly led to vote for El-Sisi
20:15 El-Sisi’s campaign says it’s legal advisor is also filing a complaint to the PEC against extending elections an extra day.
20:05 Sabahi’s campaign legal advisor has arrived at the Presidential Elections Commission (PEC) to file aformal legal complaint against the PEC’s decision to extend the election an extra day.
19:55 Sabahi’s campaign has requested its representatives to remain in polling stations and continue monitoring until the end of the electoral day on Tuesday. Sources in the campaign told Ahram Online that they will hold a meeting at 8pm and then release a statement regarding the decision to extend voting another day.
19:30 The Egyptian cabinet says that Wednesday will not be a public holiday.
19:15 A judge monitoring a polling station in Giza’s Mohandiseen tells Ahram Online’s Rowan El-Sheemy that the inflow of voters has increased as evening sets in, as was the case on the first day of voting. He says that the overall turnout rate is similar to that of the first day so far.
The Presidential Elections Commission (PEC) has just extended the election for one extra day after unofficial reports circulated regarding low turnout.
19:05 More reports of journalists facing difficulties at polling stations on Tuesday, says Egypt’s Journalists’ Syndicate, which released a statement alleging that journalists have been detained, arrested or obstructed from reporting in several governorates, including Giza, Sinai, Alexandria and the Nile Delta’s Daqahliya and Damietta.
The syndicate reported some 19 electoral violations during voting yesterday.
19:00 Voting has been extended for another day, with all polling centres nationwide to be open on Wednesday, says the Presidential Elections Commission (PEC).
The PEC also took back its earlier decision to extend voting on Tuesday until 10pm. Polling centres will close tonight at 9pm.
18:40 Egypt’s youth will “settle the battle”, says the Egyptian Popular Current’s spokesperson Masoum Marzouq, who added that he expects young people to show up to polling stations before they close at 10pm.
Sabahi’s campaign has frequently argued that the Nasserist candidate draws most of his support from younger generations.
In other Sabahi news, electoral representative Mohamed Magdy has been released after being arrested on Monday for protesting electoral violations, the campaign said.
18:30 Another call for Egyptians to get out and vote before polling stations close, this time from former prime minister and presidential hopeful Ahmed Shafiq.
In a phone call with privately owned TV channel Al-Qahera Wal-Nas, Shafiq also said that his vote was going to El-Sisi.
He predicted that turnout will increase in the last few hours of voting on Tuesday evening.
17:50 The Presidential Elections Commission (PEC) issued a statement late on Tuesday afternoon denouncing calls in the media for voters to cast their ballots without residence restrictions in order to boost turnout in the 2014 poll.
“Such an action will nullify the whole election process and will lead us to repeat the whole election from the beginning,” the PEC’s statement said.
According to the PEC, the number of voters who cast their ballots without residence restrictions during the constitution referendum in January 2014 was only 424,000 and not millions as claimed on TV talk shows.
“Allowing voters to cast their votes without residence restrictions will weaken security precautions in place to prevent repeated voting,” the PEC added.
On Monday night, citing a possible low turnout on day one of voting, prominent TV hosts Lamis El-Hadidy and Ahmed Moussa, both vocal supporters of El-Sisi’s candidacy, called on the PEC to allow voters to cast their ballots without residence restrictions.
17:15 Ahram Online’s Ayat Al-Tawy says a polling station in the affluent southern Cairo district of Maadi is almost deserted, with a single digit number of mostly young women inside.
Security forces, some in face masks and armed with assault rifles, are stationed behind sandbags outside the polling station, she adds.
“We have no other choice but El-Sisi. Sabahi is a weak man. He is Brotherhood and so is the April 6 [movement],” says 58-year-old Samya, in reference to Egypt’s most prominent youth group which was at the forefront of the 2011 uprising, some of whose leading members are now in jail for organising illegal protests. “Yet, I know the media is fooling us. But I’m afraid that Sabahi might bow to the Brotherhood and bring them back [into politics,]” Samya added.
17:05 Conference Party asks for polling stations to remain open until midnight on Tuesday and for voting to continue for a third day on Wednesday.
The party also says special polling stations for expatriates should be opened.
The Conference Party was founded in 2012 by Amr Moussa, foreign minister under toppled leader Hosni Mubarak.
16:25 PEC member Tarek Shebl said fines would be imposed on people who do not vote without a valid excuse, Aswat Masriya reported.
The commission will enforce Article 47 of the election law which specifies a LE500 ($70) fine for failing to vote, he added.
“Judges will allow anyone who arrives at a polling station before the closing time of 10pm to cast their vote.”
“There are no plans to extend voting for a third day.”
Cabinet spokesman Hossam El-Qaweesh told private television channel ONTV that the government was not authorised to fine people who fail to vote. State television said the PEC does not have the authority to fine non-voters.
16:00 Voter turnout in Alexandria on Monday was 20 percent, the head of the local election committee told state news agency MENA.
He did not have figures for today.
Security forces found four fake bombs near polling stations in the city, he added. He said they were intended to frighten voters and disrupt the electoral process.
15:45 Ahram Online’s Mohamed Nada says four polling stations in downtown Cairo are almost empty, with police and army officers “dying of boredom.”
15:45 Democratic Alliance election observers call for the PEC to demand an end to incitement against youth and international election observers, Al-Ahram Arabic news website reported.
The Democratic Alliance is composed of a number of human rights organisations.
15:35 A source at the Sabahi campaign said “informal consultations have been initiated by the Presidential Elections Commissions about extending voting for a third day.”
“We have not given our approval and we are apprehensive because we are already monitoring violations. Our representatives have been thrown out of several polling stations.”
“We will probably decline the request but we are still to announce a final decision.”
The prime minister’s office said any decision on extending the voting would be up to the PEC.
15:10 A cabinet spokesman said the government cannot interfere in the work of the Presidential Elections Commission (PEC) in response to widespread media calls to allow voters to cast their ballots without residence restrictions.
“PEC is the sole body responsible for making any election-related decisions. It has its own regulations and rules, and we cannot interfere.”
Some media anchors pointed the finger at the PEC for the reported lower-than-expected turnout, saying citizens should be able to vote anywhere regardless of where they live.
14:40 The Salafist Nour Party is transporting women to polling stations in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria, Al-Ahram Arabic news website reports.
Nour is the only Islamist faction to support the interim authorities and the political roadmap set up after Morsi’s ouster.
Mohamed Hassan, a member of the party’s media committee, says the party wants to help women participate in the election.
14:25 Voter turnout has been picking up in the Suez Canal City of Ismailia and Marsa Matrouh near the Libyan border, according to Al-Ahram Arabic news website.
“I’m expecting more voters to show up when the weather gets better at sunset. I believe the total turnout will be higher than the 2012 presidential election,” said Ashraf El-Asi, a representative of the Wafd Party in Ismailia.
13:30 El-Sisi campaign accuses Sabahi’s team of breaking the ban on campaigning by its use of the Twitter hashtag Tuesday_For_Hamdeen.
The media coordinator for the El-Sisi campaign said they would be sending an official complaint to the PEC.
13:15 Dar El-Ifta, the official body responsible for issuing religious edicts, said the “positive participation” of voters will be the suitable response to those who “misuse and manipulate religion” to serve their own interests, in an apparent reference to the Muslim Brotherhood.
“Participating in the elections will ensure their defeat,” Dar El-Ifta said in a statement on its Facebook page.
13:00 Ali Mahmoud, a 32-year-old taxi driver in Hadayek El-Kobba, said he voted for El-Sisi because the corruption of the Brotherhood made him “realise this country can only be led a military man.”
“No civilian can control this country,” he added. “I do not care about his electoral programme, what matters the most is whether or not this person is honest and respectable.”
12:40 Back to Hadayek El-Kobba, a 42-year-old woman who had just finished casting her ballot at a polling station told Ahram Online’s Sherry El-Gergawy that her three daughters began supporting the Brotherhood after security forces dispersed their pro-Morsi protest camp in Rabaa Al-Adawiya, killing hundreds.
“They speak so stiffly as they defend the Brotherhood,” she said, “They say they are boycotting the elections of blood.”
As for her, she gave her vote to El-Sisi because “the Brotherhood were a failure! They almost damaged the country and he [El-Sisi] saved the people from them,” she declared, adding that she wasn’t certain the Brotherhood was finished in Egypt and that only El-Sisi would be able to deal with all the looming challenges.
12:15 Egypt’s state-run news agency MENA said polling stations in South Sinai also witnessed a low turnout in the early hours of Tuesday.
“Unlike Monday, queues are nowhere to be seen,” MENA said.
12:00 Ahram Online’s Sherry El-Gergawy said polling stations in Cairo’s Zeitoun, Hadayek El-Kobba andSaray El-Kobba districts were almost deserted today.
A low-ranking policeman securing one of the polling stations in El-Kobba suggested that the reason behind the low turnout is “the increased number of polling stations this year, and the hot weather.”
“If we put this into consideration, the turnout might be acceptable,” he said.
11:45 Army vehicles are playing patriotic songs through loudspeakers in Cairo’s Heliopolis district, reports Al-Ahram Arabic, including the new anthem “Boshret Kheir” (“Good Omen”) which has gone viral recently on social networking websites.
The song, by Emirati Hussein Al-Jasmi, aims to build up voter enthusiasm for the elections, telling listeners “your vote will make a difference.”
11:20 Two young Christians in the working class district of Imbaba told Ahram Online’s Mariam Rizk that they would vote for El-Sisi, who enjoys wide support among Egyptian Coptic Christians.
Naseem Youssef and Hanna Fayez, both in their twenties, said they would feel secure under the rule of the army strongman, who they see as the man capable of restoring stability to Egypt.
10:30 Ahram Online’s Mariam Rizk says that several polling stations she visited in the upscale Cairo districts of Zamalek and Agouza were almost deserted.
“We have been in total chaos for the past three years. All of that will change when the man who risked his life for the sake of country [El-Sisi] is in charge. We will not bring back a traitor who wants to sell Egypt,” said Mostafa Orany, 55, in reference to former president Mohamed Morsi.
Voter Nadra Zaki, a 65-year-old housewife, commented: “I really hope these elections can change the country and bring back security; this is the most important thing.”
10:15 El-Sisi‘s campaign has urged people not only to vote, but to assist others in finding their way to polling stations.
“Use your laptops and show the people their electoral numbers so that they can vote. Play a role in making the voting process comfortable for them,” the campaign said in a post on its official Facebook page.
10:00 According to Al-Ahram’s Arabic-language news website, several polling stations in Cairo’s Ain Shamsand Matariya districts — areas that are regularly the site of fierce clashes between security forces and Morsi supporters — witnessed a small number of voters in the first hour of voting.
Morning television shows are calling on people incessantly to “take advantage of the day off” and vote.
09:30 Sabahi‘s campaign remained upbeat about their candidate’s chances yesterday, saying that he “remains in serious contention to win the elections,” in a statement late on Monday after voting had ended.
The statement called on young people to turn out on Tuesday to back the leftist candidate, arguing that the youth vote will be “the decisive factor in determining the winner.”
09:15 As mentioned above, there seem to be several official moves to boost turnout and encourage Egyptians to exercise their right to vote. Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab last night declared that he was bowing to popular pressure to give all government employees the day off to allow them to cast their ballots.
The Presidential Elections Commission has also announced that voting hours will be extended by an hour, with polls set to close at 10pm instead of 9pm.
09:00 Welcome to Ahram Online’s live blog. We’ll be covering the voting in the second and final day of Egypt’s 2014 presidential election, which features two candidates: former military chief Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi and leftist Hamdeen Sabahi.
Monday, the first day of voting, was quieter and more peaceful than many national elections in Egypt have been in the last few years. One IED exploded near a polling station in Fayoum but led to no injuries, while police said another six were defused in three locations including Giza and Kafr El-Sheikh.
There were also some isolated clashes between security forces and supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi, who argue the election is illegitimate. Police dispersed protests in Cairo, Alexandria and Minya, among other places.
There were some reports of electoral violations, but these were limited in scope. Sabahi’s campaign claimed security forces prevented some of their representatives from entering polling stations, which prompted them to file official complaints. They also reported that a military vehicle had blared pro-El-Sisi slogans.
El-Sisi’s campaign also reported some violations, including delays in opening some polling stations and preventing some of the campaign’s representatives from monitoring operations inside polling stations.
There was also much speculation about turnout yesterday; some reported long queues of enthusiastic voters, while others witnessed near empty polling stations. Sabahi’s campaign said in a mid-day press conference that its reports indicated a modest turnout but expressed hopes that more people would show up after sundown. They especially urged young people to come out and vote, driven by the belief that young people will back Sabahi.
The pro-Morsi National Alliance in Support of Legitimacy, meanwhile, released a statement saying that many Egyptians had boycotted the vote.
Today will be a public holiday for government employees, according to an announcement last night. That might have an effect on turnout. The judicial body that is overseeing the voting process, the Presidential Election Commission (PEC) has also announced that voting will be extended by an hour today, to 10pm . Either way, we have a full day of voting ahead, with polling stations opening at 9am, and it is probably to early to speculate about overall turnout.
El-Sisi is widely expected to win by a comfortable majority, as he did in last week’s expat vote, when he garnered 94.5 percent of the vote.
11:15 Seventeen out of 1,064 polling stations in Sharqiya governorate opened late, according to judicial sources there.
“The stations that opened their doors late will be kept open after closing time to compensate voters,” the head of the judges’ operation room in the Nile Delta told Al-Ahram, explaining that the delay was because of the late arrival of some judges.
11:00 In the working class district of Imbaba in Cairo, most of the few voters Ahram Online’s Mariam Rizk encountered were women.
“I’m sure that when El-Sisi becomes president there will be job opportunities and all those criminals will be controlled. He has wide experience from his time in the army, which is the country’s source of power,” said 29-year-old voter Marwa Mohamed.
“Now the youth are not afraid of anything or anyone. I just hope Sisi brings back security and police regain their power,” she added.
10:45 Several election-related Arabic hashtags are trending on Twitter in Egypt.
The first one, #Tuesday_for_Hamdeen, calls on young people to vote for the leftist politician, while the second supports El-Sisi. The third, #presidential_sham, is pro-boycott, as is a fourth, #Not_going_down.