Egyptian election marred by violence

Nov. 28, 2010 at 11:24 PM
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CAIRO, Nov. 28 (UPI) -- Egyptians voted Sunday in parliamentary elections marred by sporadic violence and clouded by allegations of fraud.

The Los Angeles Times reported opponents of the National Democratic Party accused the ruling party of paying off voters and stuffing ballot boxes. Election observers and others said would-be voters were turned away in at some polling stations and faced stick-wielding strongmen at others, the Times said.

Police in Qena used tear gas to disperse about 400 Brotherhood supporters who said they had been blocked from voting. In Alexandria, Brotherhood candidate Sobhi Saleh said police watched as he was attacked by thugs.

"This election is absolute forgery," Usama Sayed said. "Independents weren't allowed to campaign. They weren't allowed to meet with voters. This new Parliament will be one without opposition."

Gamal Eid, executive director of the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information, said his group was getting reports of "bullying, use of force and [ballot] rigging."

"There are a large number of violations," he said.

Turnout among the country's 41 million registered voters was reported light and the results won't be announced until Tuesday. The largest opposition bloc, the Muslim Brotherhood, could lose half its seats in the 508-seat Parliament, the U.S. newspaper said.

While clashes were reported countrywide, they were described as minor compared with five years ago when at least 17 people died in election-inspired violence, the Times said.

Tens of thousands of police were deployed throughout the country prepared to quell violence, Al-Arabuya said.

High Elections Committee spokesman Sameh al-Kashef said police were not permitted to enter polling stations, unless requested to aid in quelling violence, Al-Masry-al-Youm said.

Confrontations were reported in Mansoura between supporters of a Muslim Brotherhood candidate and other candidates' supporters, the Egyptian daily said.

Police reportedly prevented monitors from reaching polling stations in Alexandria and barred 200 delegates from entering polling stations in Dokki, the daily said.

In Port Said, police arrested Akram al-Shaaer, a member of Parliament and Muslim Brotherhood member, the newspaper said, noting a number of his supporters were also arrested by police.

Muslim Brotherhood spokesman Mohammed Saeed told the newspaper 30 polling stations failed to open on time in Giza.

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