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High Electoral Commission

The High Electoral Commission is preparing to announce official results for the first stage of elections. The HEC’s preliminary statement confirms record turnout:

  • 62 percent of eligible voters – 8,614,525 Egyptians – cast ballots in the first round
     
  • 2,756 ballot boxes were supervised by 10,143 members of the judiciary

This post will be updated when final results are available.

Photo Credit: al-Masry al-Youm

Kamal Ganzouri with Hosni Mubarak in 1997.

Egypt moved a step closer to forming a new government on December 1, as Prime Minister Kamal Ganzouri submitted his cabinet nominations to the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF).

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Prime Minister Ganzouri with Field Marshal Tantawi

Following reports that the Freedom and Justice Party and Salafi Nour Party won around 40 and 20 percent of the vote, respectively, the FJP’s secretary general Saad al-Katatny issued a statement denying an “alleged alliance” with the Salafis to form an Islamist government.  Prime Minister Kamal Ganzouri is expected to announce the members of his new cabinet on December 3, and early reports indicate that he will retain as many as ten ministers from Sharaf’s government including two holdovers from Mubarak’s regime.

PROTESTS:

1) Thousands of protesters returned to Tahrir Square to commemorate the martyrs of the revolution and demand an end to military rule on December 2. The April 6 Youth Movement called for the formation of a revolutionary salvation government, saying the ruling military council’s appointment of Kamal El-Ganzoury as prime minister is undermining the revolution’s objectives.  Meanwhile, a few hundred pro-SCAF protesters staged a rally across town in Abbassiya Square supporting the military and denouncing Mohamed ElBaradei and the April 6 Youth Movement.  [al-Ahram, English, 12/2/2011] [al-Shorouk, Arabic, 12/2/2011]

ELECTIONS:

2) Following reports that the Freedom and Justice Party and Salafi Nour Party won around 40 and 20 percent of the vote, respectively, the FJP’s secretary general Saad al-Katatny issued a statement denying an “alleged alliance” with the Salafis and insisting that it is only coordinating with the Democratic Alliance, comprising 11 parties.  [Ikhwanweb, English, 12/2/2011]  [al-Ahram, Arabic, 12/1/2011]

3) Preliminary results indicate that the Freedom and Justice Party received almost 40 percent of the vote, followed by the Salafi parties with at least 20 percent (official results were expected on December 2). These figures suggest that Islamist parties may fill as many as 120 of the 168 seats contested in the first stage of elections. The liberal-oriented Egyptian Bloc, dominated by the Free Egyptians Party, the Social Democratic Party, and Tagammu’, is in third place. Early results also indicate that voters showed a bias in favor of familiar former parliamentarians over a new generation of younger candidates associated with the revolution. Several Mubarak-era MPs from the Brotherhood, Wafd, and NDP won seats in the first round and several more have moved on to the runoff round scheduled for December 5.  Prominent activists George Ishak (founder of Kefaya) and Gamila Ismail (ex-wife of Ayman Nour) lost in Port Said and Cairo, respectively. However, some candidates associated with the revolution, including Amr Hamzawy, won seats, and others -- Mostafa El-Naggar, chairman of the centrist Adl (Justice) Party and reformist judge Mahmoud El-Khodeiri – will compete in the runoff round. Although many observers expected the Wafd to perform well, the party suffered major losses. [al-Ahram, English, 12/2/2011]

4) Unofficial statistics suggest that voter turnout may have reached 70 percent in the first round, compared to an official turnout rate of 23 percent in the 2005 parliamentary elections. (Actual turnout was believed to be even lower in 2005). [al-Ahram, English, 12/2/2011]  

5) The Brotherhood’s FJP has 43 candidates advancing to the runoff round on December 5 in Cairo, competing against candidates from the Salafi Nour Party, the Egyptian Bloc, and the centrist Adl Party in Cairo, Alexandria, Kafr al-Sheikh, Damietta, Fayoum, Luxor, Assiyut, and the Red Sea. [al-Masry al-Youm, Arabic, 12/2/2011]

NEW GOVERNMENT:

6) Prime Minister Kamal Ganzouri submitted his cabinet nominations to the SCAF on December 1. Ganzouri is not expected to announce the members of his new cabinet until December 3, pending the SCAF’s approval, but early reports indicate that he will retain as many as ten ministers from Sharaf’s government including two holdovers from Mubarak’s regime, Minister of International Cooperation Fayza Aboul Naga and Electricity Minister Hassan Younis. One of the few ministers who was not asked to stay on is Finance Minister Hazem al-Beblawi, who will be replaced by Ganzouri himself. Egyptian media speculated that Major General Mohamed Ibrahim was a front-runner for the Interior Ministry post, despite the fact that human rights activists and protesters are demanding that the ministry be radically restructured under civilian leadership. Ibrahim has been accused of “massacring” Sudanese refugees as Giza’s security director during the tenure of Mubarak’s former Interior Minister Habib al-Adly. The fact that several leading public figures under consideration for ministerial portfolios have declined the posts does not bode well for the Ganzouri government’s legitimacy. Prominent journalists Adel Hammouda and Magdy al-Gallad both declined the Information Ministry post, while actor Mohamed Sobhy rejected an offer to lead the Ministry of Culture.  [EgyptSource, English, 12/1/2011] [al-Ahram, English, 12/2/2011] [al-Masry al-Youm, Arabic, 12/2/2011]

7) The SCAF is expected to announce the formation of an “advisory council” shortly that will assist the military in administering the remainder of the transitional period until a new president is elected. The proposed council, intended to function as a “buffer zone” to prevent “misunderstandings” between the public and the armed forces, would consist of 30 representatives of political force including youth groups. The council would also have the authority to “advise” the SCAF on proposed laws or regulations. [al-Ahram, English, 12/2/2011]

U.S. POLICY:

8) Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) published an op-ed in Politico calling for conditioning military aid to Egypt on “Egypt should be conditioned on the holding of free and fair elections; an end of the abuse of emergency rule; and respect for due process and fundamental freedoms.” These conditions are included in the new Senate appropriations bill, but not the House version, although both drafts request the same level of funding, $1.3 billion, for the Egyptian military. [Politico, English, 12/2/2011]

9) The US embassy in Cairo appeared to sharpen its criticism of the military on December 1, warning that future exports of US-made teargas could be suspended if Egyptian authorities continue to use it to cause death and injury. Earlier this week, State Department spokesman Mark Toner defended the shipment of tear gas to the Egyptian government, saying that Washington has not seen “any real concrete proof that the Egyptian authorities were misusing tear gas.” Under Mubarak's regime in 2009, the US government authorized permanent export licenses for $101 million in defense sales to Egypt, including 33,770 units of 'tear gases and riot control agents," Jack Shenker reported [The Guardian, English, 12/1/2011] [State Department, English, 11/29/2011]

Photo Credit: Reuters

American-made tear gas

The US embassy in Cairo appeared to sharpen its criticism of the military on December 1, warning that future exports of US-made teargas could be suspended if Egyptian authorities continue to use it to cause death and injury. The Guardian's live blog reports:

"The warning comes after it emerged that the Egyptian ministry of interior had ordered 21 tonnes of teargas from the US following days of street clashes between revolutionaries and security forces in which countless gas canisters - the majority of them American-made - were launched at civilians, causing serious injuries.

Under Mubarak's regime in 2009, the US government authorized permanent export licences for $101 million in defense sales to Egypt, including 33,770 units of 'tear gases and riot control agents," Jack Shenker reported.  Ones hopes that Egypt's next government will be in the business of protecting human rights, rather than policing its own citizens.

Photo Credit: Charles Onians

Freedom and Justice Party supporter

Early election results indicated that Islamist parties are on track to win a dominant majority in the next People’s Assembly. The Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) appears to have won 40 percent of the vote, while Salafis may have claimed up to 25 percent of the vote, giving the two groups combined control of nearly 65 percent of the seats.

PROTESTS:

1) 23 parties and movements including the April 6 Youth Movement and Maspero Coalition are backing a rally in Tahrir Square planned for December 2 to honor the victims of recent clashes. The presidential campaigns of Mohamed ElBaradei and Hamdeen Sabahi announced their participation in the demonstration.  [al-Ahram, English, 12/1/2011] [al-Shorouk, Arabic, 12/1/2011]

ELECTIONS:

2) The official announcement of final election results has been postponed until December 2, due to delays in the counting of ballots. [al-Masry al-Youm, English, 12/1/2011]

3) Early election results indicated that Islamist parties are on track to win a dominant majority in the next People’s Assembly. The Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) appears to have won 40 percent of the vote, while Salafis may have claimed up to 25 percent of the vote, giving the two groups combined control of nearly 65 percent of the seats. (The precise allocation of seats will not be determined until after the third round of voting in January 2012). Islamist candidates performed surprisingly well in urban voting districts like Cairo and Alexandria, where liberal political forces have their strongest constituencies, suggesting that the FJP and Salafi Nour Parties could make an even stronger showing in subsequent rounds of voting in some of the more rural, conservative districts viewed as Islamist strongholds. [New York Times, English, 12/1/2011] [al-Ahram, English, 12/1/2011]

4) The National Democratic Institute’s preliminary statement on the first round of elections was a largely positive assessment: “Defying expectations, large numbers of voters and two largely peaceful days of balloting provided a promising beginning to a three round voting process and gave rise to the possibility of an election that reflects the will of the people.”  However, the report did note several irregularities, including illegal campaigning on the election days and delayed opening of polling stations, and made a number of recommendations for the second round, including clarified procedures for ballot counting; procedural instructions for the sealing and storage of ballot boxes; and considering the establishment of a 30-meter “campaign-free perimeter” around polling stations. [NDI, English, 11/30/2011]

5) Voters will return to the polls on Monday, December 5 for a run-off round to determine results for contests in which no candidate won 50 percent of the vote. Some of the run-off races will see intense competition between Islamist and liberal candidates. The FJP and Salafi Nour Party are reportedly using religious propaganda in Nasser City to back the Islamist candidate Mohamed Yousry against Mostafa al-Nagar, a member of the centrist Adl Party running as part of the liberal-oriented Egyptian Bloc. The Islamist parties are distributing leaflets describing al-Nagar as “the Church’s candidate.” [al-Youm al-Saba’a, Arabic, 12/1/2011]

6) Coordinator of the FJP-led Democratic Alliance, Wahid Abdel Meguid, estimated that the Alliance won 41 percent of the parliamentary seats after the first round and projected that the proportion will increase to 45 percent after the third round of voting in January. Meguid said he was surprised by the success of the Salafi Nour Party, which won at least 20 percent of the seats, exceeding the expectations of its own party leaders, who predicted winning only 10-15 percent. Meguid ruled out future cooperation with the Nour Party for individual seats. [al-Masry al-Youm, Arabic, 12/1/2011]

NEW GOVERNMENT:

7) On December 1, the Freedom and Justice Party appeared to back down from Mohamed Morsi’s earlier statement insisting that the next parliamentary majority should be empowered to form a coalition government. In an official statement, the FJP said it is still “too early” to discuss the next parliament and said that the first priority for now should be promoting “cooperation between all forces and helping the country move from a transitional stage toward the establishment of new institutions.” The statement added, “The composition of parliament and the parliamentary alliances is tied to the final results of the third stage (of elections) which will reveal a balanced parliament that reflects all segments of society.” [al-Masry al-Youm, Arabic, 12/1/2011]

8) Mohamed Saad Katatny, head of the Brotherhood’s FJP, said that the next parliament will have the task of forming a government and drafting Egypt’s new constitution. “The committee to formulate the constitution should be representative of all political trends and include men of religion,” Katatny said, adding that the committee “cannot be tied to the parliamentary majority.” [al-Shorouk, Arabic, 11/30/2011]

9) Prime Minister Kamal Ganzouri has concluded a series of meetings with candidates for ministerial portfolios and is expected to announce the members of the new cabinet on the evening of December 1. Finance Minister Hazem al-Beblawi said he has not yet been asked to stay on in the new cabinet. Adel Abdel Hamid, former head of the Court of Cassation, is being considered for the post of minister of justice; Galam al-Araby is a candidate for minister of education; and Major General Mohamed is a candidate for interior minister. In recent months, some protest groups have demanded that a civilian be appointed lead the Interior Ministry. [al-Shorouk, Arabic, 12/1/2011] [The Daily News Egypt, English, 11/30/2011] [al-Masry al-Youm, Arabic, 12/1/2011]

10) Prime Minister Kamal Ganzouri announced that he will appoint a civilian minister of civil aviation, after pilots threatened to close Egyptian airspace if Ganzouri chose a military official for the post. In addition, Ganzouri promised to create a Ministry of Revolution’s Martyrs Affairs. Ganzouri is expected to retain between five and seven ministers from Sharaf’s cabinet, and several prominent figures have reportedly declined appointments in the new government, including journalists Adel Hammouda and Magdy al-Galad, who were being considered for the post of Information Minister. [al-Ahram, English, 12/1/2011]

U.S. POLICY:

11) Secretary of State Hillary Clinton issued a statement on December 1 congratulating Egyptians on “a peaceful, successful start to their election process.” “The American people will continue to stand by the people of Egypt as they move toward a democratically elected civilian government that respects universal human rights and will meet their aspirations for dignity, freedom, and a better life,” Clinton said. [State Department, English, 12/1/2011]

ECONOMY:

12) A military official, Mahmoud Nasr, estimated that Egypt’s foreign reserves will plummet by a third to US $15 billion by the end of January. Nasr acknowledged that one of the solutions to the growing deficit would be “reviewing subsidies, particularly petrol subsidies.” At the same time, the government continues to resist international assistance. “We prefer not to borrow money from abroad. The loans come with strings attached that undermine state sovereignty,” Nasr said. [al-Masry al-Youm, English, 12/1/2011]

Photo Credit: Reuters

Egyptian woman voter

Partial results for single-winner races are being released today, with additional results expected after a run-off round on Monday, December 5. The Freedom and Justice Party issued a statement claiming that the FJP-led Democratic Alliance is leading the proportional representation races, followed by the Salafi Nour Party and the liberal-oriented Egyptian Bloc in third place. The FJP also asserted that the majority in the next People’s Assembly should have the authority to form a new government.  

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Crowd in Tahrir Square

Late last night, clashes erupted between protesters and street vendors in Tahrir during which approximately 80 people were wounded. By the end of these skirmishes, the protesters had forced the vendors out of the square against the backdrop of calls saying, "The people want the cleansing of Tahrir!"

For the protesters, street vendors have been a thorn in their side, causing problems ranging from increased trash in the streets to starting fights and smuggling weapons into the square. Most protesters believe that some vendors have also received payments from the interior ministry to report on the activities in Tahrir and wait to receive orders to stir up trouble. Organizers in Tahrir have felt their presence taints the reputation of the revolution and decided in a meeting yesterday to form a community police force to expel them from the square.

Community police stand off to the side as a man in Tahrir Square breaks a rock to throw.



At 6 p.m., a group of nearly sixty lined themselves up and marched around Tahrir, led by protest organizers who stopped to ask vendors to leave. In an effort to remain fair, they told the vendors that they were welcome to return as protesters but their wares must remain outside. Observers expressed discomfort with the military-style display of force. Vendors felt intimidated and shouting matches between them and protesters raised concern. Organizers, however, continued to march their team after warning the vendors of the consequences of staying.

A few hours later, another patrol began with the community police force now dressed in orange vests and bearing large sticks. At one point the organizers lost control of their men when someone yelled, "Fight!" Full scale beatings broke out all around the square with any vendor who resisted. The "officers" also berated and intimidated observers who tried to take picture or film the crackdown. One protester threw a camera onto the floor and stepped on it. The entire scene seemed eerily similar to past incidents in which protesters have suffered abuse at the hands of state security officers.

The clashes finally dissipated, giving rise to the cheers and revolutionary chants heard around the square for the past ten days. But the dirty taste it left in their mouths seemed obvious as debates, rationalizations, and excuses could be heard within a number of groups trying to justify the dubious methods used to empty the square. After decades of mistreatment by state security, violence to maintain order seems to have become hard-wired in the Egyptian psyche. One can only hope that the change in the political atmosphere will help heal some of the psychological damage that contributed to last night's scene.

Tarek Radwan is an Egyptian human rights activist specializing in international law and conflict resolution. He has worked for Human Rights Watch's MENA division and the United Nations mission (UNAMID) in Darfur as a Human Rights Officer. He currently provides consulting services on civilian protection and Middle East issues.

Photo Credit: Tarek Radwan

Soldiers carry ballot boxes to counting stations

Port Said — The young Egyptian judge reopening his polling station shortly before 8 this morning took great trouble not only to carry out procedures correctly but to be seen doing so.  He looked frankly relieved to see international observers present, but would not open the door until at least one party agent was there to witness; as luck would have it, an agent of the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) was close by.  The judge undid the padlocks and broke the seals—strips of cloth fastened with blobs of red wax—on the classroom door, over the slots in ballot boxes left in the room overnight, on packages of unused ballots.  After a quick sweeping of the room, which was littered with campaign materials from the previous day, the voting began again. Just outside the school, an FJP representative had set up a table with large poster.

In watching voters coming and going, sometimes it seemed clear which neighborhoods were Salafi strongholds due to the prevalence of men with short cropped hair and long, bushy beards, as well as women swathed in black, complete with face veils and gloves.  The Brotherhood men, on the other hand, often cultivate a more Western appearance, with neatly-trimmed beards (or just mustaches) and business suits, while the women always cover their heads but not often their faces.  Akram al-Shaer, the FJP’s candidate for an individual seat and probably the most prominent Brotherhood politician in Port Said, visited a polling station in the al-Manakh neighborhood, which struck me as having a heavy Salafi presence, while I was there this morning.  Those in attendance returned his cheery greeting with respect but without enthusiasm; his visit created no ripple of excitement in a room full of poll workers and voters.

But two villages I visited just south of Port Said—which border the Suez Canal and are part of the Port Said electoral district—were clearly Brotherhood territory.  In one village, Akram al-Shaer’s name and the slogan “Islam is the solution” were stenciled artfully on the exterior walls of house after house, although such religious slogans are legally banned in campaigns and are absent from the FJP’s campaign posters and other official materials.  As I was leaving a polling station in the village, an FJP representative confronted me over this fact, having noticed that I jotted al-Islam huwa al-hal (Islam is the solution) in my notebook.  Apparently fearing that this was the sort of thing that international observers write in their reports (actually the official monitoring involves keeping track of more technical things, such as whether ballot boxes were locked and whether voting was taking place in private or in public), he vowed to contest any such finding.

Nosy international observers apparently were also starting to get on the nerve of some other Egyptians involved in the elections by the end of a second tiring day at the polls.  While we were observing the 7 pm closing procedures at another polling place inside Port Said, an army officer entered the room and the previously-friendly supervising judge suddenly said it was time for us to go.  As we waited outside to watch the ballot boxes being loaded into a red pickup truck for transportation to the counting center, the army officer approached us and asked for our evaluation of the elections.  When we replied (per observer instructions) that we were not permitted to give our opinions, he replied with evident exasperation: “My men and I have worked very hard to give the Egyptian people the sort of free electoral process they have never experienced before; I hope you can appreciate that.”

We were all as exhausted as that army officer by the time vote counting began at a sports arena, some 12 hours after the polls opened.  But this was not a scene to be missed.  A military band played outside Mubarak Hall—at least that is what it used to be called until the name was removed from the front after the revolution—while hundreds of candidates, representatives, and their family members jostled each other, trying to get in past reasonably tight security.  The floor of the enormous hall was lined with long tables and folding chairs, which could barely accommodate the more than 500 voting boxes.  The poll supervisor and staff from each station opened and unpacked their own boxes (I recognized the team from the station I had visited just an hour earlier), while hundreds of candidates, their representatives, and civil society monitors observed from the bleachers above.

The audience periodically erupted into jeers, demands, cheers, or chants, almost as though it were indeed a sport taking place, using their collective vocal power to force a response from the floor below.  When one group of poll workers dumped the contents of a ballot box onto a table instead of unpacking it sheet by sheet, the crowd erupted into angry shouts.  When a hapless clerk used a pen to tick off ballots she had checked for completeness, dozens chanted alam! (pen) and pointed at her until she got the clue.  The biggest response I saw was when the man of the hour—yes, Akram al-Shaer—stepped down from the bleachers and began to wander around the vote-counting floor—very much out of order for a candidate--provoking furious calls for security intervention and chants of itla’! (get up) until he complied.

Al-Shaer’s individual seat race with George Ishak is expected to be announced as soon as tomorrow, but it will be weeks before the Port Saidis know which lists won the district’s four proportional seats.  Until then, the army, police, and printing presses of the city can take a bit of a break, while the weary judges move on to the runoffs and the next round of parliamentary elections on December 14.                

Michele Dunne is the director of the Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East and an official observer of the first stage of the parliamentary elections. She can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Photo Credit: Associated Press

 
 
Ballot counting in Port Said

After following the two-day voting process as an official monitor, Michele Dunne captured this video footage of a ballot-counting session in Port Said.  After the close of polls on November 29, ballot boxes were transported in military vehicles to polling stations like this one, located at a sports facility that was once named “Mubarak Hall”:

Counting will continue through the night in the nine governorates that voted in this first round of elections this week, with the results for single-winner races expected tomorrow morning. However, many of the closest races will not be decided until Monday, December 5, when voters return to the polls for a run-off between front-runners in single-winner contests where no candidate won at least 50 percent of the vote.

Final results will not be calculated until next year, due to the long timeframe for the staggered voting process, which will be dragged out in three separate rounds. 

Results for the third of seats contested under the single-winner individual candidacy system will be announced after each of the three stages of the elections. However, for the remaining two thirds of seats (decided by proportional representation), results will not be calculated until after the final round of voting in January of next year.

Photo and Video Credit: Michele Dunne

Egyptian man votes

As voters cast their ballots in the second day of parliamentary elections, a dwindling number of protesters continued their sit-in in Tahrir Square and outside of the cabinet building, where they are demanding an end to military rule and condemning the appointment of Prime Minister Kamal Ganzouri. Ganzouri is expected to retain between five and seven ministers from Essam Sharaf’s outgoing cabinet. 

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