Islamists and liberals traded accusations of abuses during the second round of Egypt’s first post-Hosni Mubarak parliamentary elections as voters cast ballots on Thursday in mostly rural parts of the country.
Most of the reports accused election officials at polling stations of filling out the ballot forms instead of the elderly or confused voters. If confirmed as a pattern, the reports could chip away at the credibility of what has so far been Egypt’s most free and fair vote ever.
Two alliances led by Islamists have won close to 70 per cent of seats in the first round on Nov. 28-29, according to an AP tally compiled from official results. The secular and liberal forces that largely drove Egypt’s uprising that ousted Mubarak were trounced, failing to turn their achievement into a victory at the polls.
The second round of voting, taking place on Wednesday and Thursday in nine provinces, and the third round in early January are not expected to dramatically alter the result and could even strengthen the Islamists’ hand. Rural areas in Egypt are traditionally more conservative, and some are Islamist strongholds.
The elections will lead to the formation of a parliament, which in theory is tasked to select a 100-member assembly to draft Egypt’s new constitution. Liberals fear that Islamists-led Parliament might lead to an Islamic constitution, setting new Egypt to the path of more religious fundamentalism.
The Muslim Brotherhood, which is leading the polls, and an alliance of liberal youth parties have filed complaints, saying officials at several stations were “dictating to the voters who to vote for.”
The Brotherhood’s political arm, the Justice and Freedom party, said officials in several populous districts of Giza, Cairo’s twin city, “forced female voters to vote for competitors” running against Brotherhood candidates.
The Brotherhood’s statement quoted an official at a polling station telling voters that it’s “enough what Freedom and Justice got so far.”