Brotherhood denounces Egypt polls

Opposition group accuses government of blocking supporters from casting ballots.

    Police allegedly allowed only pro-government voters to enter polling centres [Reuters]
    A man was killed when supporters of rival candidates outside a polling station clashed in the northern Nile Delta region as the authorities kept security tight across the country.
    Limited judicial monitoring raised doubts over the fairness of the election process, Al Jazeera's Egypt correspondent, Amr El Kahky, reported from Cairo.
    "We want to vote," a crowd of supporters of an independent candidate chanted outside a polling station in Giza, Cairo's sister-city, in front of riot police blocking the entrance.

    "If I had heavy makeup and miniskirt on, they would have allowed me to vote with pleasure"

    Safaa Hegazy, voter

    Police officers on site claimed the supporters were not registered to vote although dozens waved what appeared to be proper official voting cards.
    "If I had heavy makeup and miniskirt on, they would have allowed me to vote with pleasure," said Safaa Hegazy, a veiled woman who was prevented by police from entering another station in Giza.
    "They are punishing me because I want to vote for the Brotherhood."
    Voters at several polling stations visited by The Associated Press complained police were only allowing in those with voting cards issued by the ruling National Democratic party (NDP).
    "They want us to vote for the NDP. We don't want them, they don't serve us. We don't even see or know them. This is unacceptable oppression," said one voter.
    The government cracked down on the opposition in recent weeks, arresting about 1,000 candidates and supporters, including 400 members of the Muslim Brotherhood.
    'Free and transparent'
    But Safwat el-Sherif, the speaker of the Shura Council, said Monday's voting would be "free and transparent".
    "We respect the constitution and the laws and we don't allow any violations in this process," he told state media.

    Riot police stopped some voters from casting
    their ballots in Ausim [Reuters]

    The Egyptian Organisation for Human Rights, in a statement before polling closed, said its observers saw opposition supporters being attacked, voters banned from the polls and instances of vote-buying.
    A spokesman for the interior ministry accused the Brotherhood's supporters of storming an election station in Giza, near Cairo, trying to stuff boxes with readied ballots marking the name of one of its candidates.
    About 30 supporters were detained by police.
    A number of opposition groups boycotted Monday's election, the first held under constitutional amendments approved by a referendum in March, but the Muslim Brotherhood participated for the first time.
    The Brotherhood fielded 19 candidates vying for 88 of the 264-seat Shura council, or upper house of parliament.
    An attempt by the election commission to disqualify eight of the Brotherhood's candidates failed when an Egyptian court denied the commission's request on the eve of voting.
    The Egyptian government outlawed the Brotherhood in the 1950s but has allowed it to operate under tight restrictions.
    Despite the constraints, however, the group stunned the government by scoring big in the lower house elections in 2005, winning more than one-fifth of the seats in parliament to become the largest opposition bloc.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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