CAIRO: “Skirmishes” and other incidents at polling stations “did not undermine the Shoura Council elections which were carried out in an atmosphere of positive competition between all candidates,” the interior ministry spokesman said Tuesday.
Speaking during a press conference held at the State Radio and Television Building after polls closed at 7 pm, Ismail Khairat, head of the Press Center’s General Information Directorate told reporters about the role played by the General Information Directorate during the elections.
Khairat said that 270 foreign journalists were given permits to cover the Shoura Council elections. He added that complaints had been received from journalists at 14 polling stations throughout Egypt and that they were “dealt with in coordination with the relevant authorities, the interior ministry and the Supreme Elections Council.”
“All the complaints were solved except for complaints received from journalists from the National, Daily News Egypt and a film crew from the Arab News Agency,” Khairat said, adding that “disturbances” witnessed in some polling stations “may have undermined the ability of some members of the press from pursuing their activities.”
Talaat Attiya, a spokesman for the Ministry of Interior, said that the elections were carried out in an atmosphere of “positive competition between all candidates.”
The Ministry of Interior “is biased to constitutional legality and the rule of law,” Attiya told reporters.
Attiya said that there are 25,349,943 registered voters and 28,609 polling stations whose locations was “well-publicized in advance” and that the names of voters eligible to vote in each constituency was displayed for all candidates “in prominent places outside polling stations so voters can recognize which constituency they are in.”
Independent candidates, the Muslim Brotherhood and civil society organizations all reported that violations — such as voters being prevented from voting and opposition party representatives prevented from observing voting inside polling stations by security bodies — occurred. There were also reported outbreaks of violence.
The interior ministry spokesman said that security bodies took all the measures necessary “to ensure that all citizens were able to vote and freely express their opinion by voting for the electoral candidate they want.”
Attiya said that some “skirmishes” occurred, “as a result of the competition.”
“These events may have relatively affected the individual polling stations themselves but did not affect the election process as a whole.”
Attiya gave examples of such incidents, mentioning “criminal elements” at the Wady Amro polling station in North Sinai who opened fire, Monday evening, while materials necessary for the elections were being taken to the polling station. According to Attiya, the attack was “in retaliation for the arrest of other criminal elements in the area.”
In Beheira meanwhile Attiya said that around 30 supporters of election candidate Mohamed Awwad El Zayyat tried to drive into a polling station in El-Qarney, Howsh Eissa using three pickup trucks. The spokesman alleged that the men then opened fire on security officers before physically attacking them using sticks.
Attiya said that security officers returned fire and made 14 arrests.
The Muslim Brotherhood has a different version of events, saying that police officer Ahmed El-Banna shot MB supporter Fayez Mahdi Araby “in an attempt to disperse the crowds who were insisting on reaching the ballot boxes to exercise their constitutional rights.”
The Nadeem Center for the Rehabilitations of the Victims of Violence said in a statement issued Wednesday that upon Araby’s arrival at the Damanhour Teaching Hospital for emergency surgery he was handcuffed to his bed by security officers and his medical report ripped up.
In Gharbeya, Attiya alleged, independent candidate Abdel-Halim Ibrahim Abdel-Rahman and a group of his supporters attempted to break into the Kafr Gaafar polling station and tamper with ballot boxes.
In Daqahleya, the interior ministry spokesman said, Mohamed El-Shafee Mohamed and between 150 and 200 supporters “attacked polling stations and broke ballot boxes in an attempt to forge ballots in Mohamed’s favor.” Four people were arrested.
Attiya said that “we expect that a large number of candidates might submit complaints about some problems they encountered during the election.” He gave the example of Azab Mostafa, standing for election in Giza who said that security bodies prevented his representatives from entering polling stations.
According to Attiya the head of the constituency’s general committee proceeded to the polling station “immediately and carried out the necessary investigations to establish that there were no violations and officials in the polling station were performing their duties in conformity with the political rights law.”
Journalists were not allowed to ask questions during the press conference. Daily News Egypt asked Attiya after the press conference why voters without voting cards had not been allowed to vote despite elections rules stating that proof of identity is sufficient in the absence of the voting card.
“If they had gone to the head of the general committee in their constituency they would have been allowed to vote,” Attiya responded, adding that voters who did so were able to vote.
Voters without voting cards Daily News Egypt witnessed being denied entry into polling stations were not informed of the necessity of doing this.