News Update: November 29, 2011

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. 


1) A dwindling number of protesters chose to boycott elections and continued their sit-in in Tahrir Square for a twelfth day. Protesters outside of the cabinet building continued to condemn the appointment of Kamal Ganzouri as prime minister. A new Gallup poll indicates growing frustration with continued street protests, with 84 percent of Egyptians surveyed in September saying that ongoing protests were a bad thing for the country.  [Gallup, English, 11/28/2011] [al-Masry al-Youm, English, 11/29/2011] [The Daily News Egypt, 11/29/2011] 


2) Observers and the Egyptian media were overwhelmingly positive in their assessment of the first day of polling, which saw massive turnout, despite reports of irregularities. Reporting from a polling station in Cairo for EgyptSource, Sabah Hamamou notes that former NDP candidates along with the FJP had made a strong impression on voters in her district. Many of the reported violations were related to unauthorized campaigning around polling stations, with reports that the FJP was still distributing gifts to voters on election day. One of the supervising judges in Helwan filed a report with the High Electoral Commission claiming that an FJP representative offered him a bribe to manipulate ballots at the polling station. The FJP, meanwhile, accused the liberal-oriented Egyptian Bloc of distributing butane cylinders to woo voters in the Helwan shantytown of Manshiet Nassser. Local media reported 1,000 irregularities in Cairo and 191 in Alexandria. Some polling stations reported delays in the delivery of ballots, with some not arriving until 5 p.m. [EgyptSource, English, 11/28/2011] [al-Masry al-Youm, English, 11/29/2011] [al-Masry al-Youm, English, 11/29/2011] [al-Shorouk, Arabic, 11/29/2011] 

3) The High Electoral Commission denied rumors that voting will be extended for a third day in districts that have seen extremely high levels of turnout. [al-Shorouk, Arabic, 11/29/2011] 

4) The Freedom and Justice Party estimated voter turnout on the first day of voting to be between 30 and 32 percent of eligible voters. [al-Masry al-Youm, English, 11/29/2011] 

5) The Interior Ministry issued a statement apologizing for any irregularities reported so far. The ministry also insisted that all ballots cast on Monday had been secured overnight. Judges supervising elections had sealed off the ballot boxes as well as the doors and windows of polling stations with wax. The judges then allowed military personnel to guard the sealed boxes. In Alexandria, judges also reportedly asked army officers to monitor polling temporarily while they were using the toilets. [al-Masry al-Youm, English, 11/29/2011] [al-Masry al-Youm, English, 11/29/2011] 

6) A local court issued three separate verdicts on November 28 ordering a halt to elections in Assiut’s second electoral district over complaints of irregularities. Election monitors witnessed campaigning inside polling stations. They also reported finding empty ballots outside, which they interpreted as proof that candidates sent voters into the polling stations with pre-marked ballots, then asked voters to bring back their blank ballots in exchange for rewards.  Voting resumed in the district on November 29, with lower turnout. [al-Masry al-Youm, English, 11/29/2011] 


7) Newly appointed Prime Minister Kamal Ganzouri has reportedly concluded consultations on the formation of a new cabinet. Ganzouri is expected to announce the members of the new cabinet shortly, and they could be sworn in before the SCAF as early as Friday, December 2. Ganzouri is expected to retain between five and seven ministers from form Prime Minister Sharaf’s government, including Minister of International Cooperation and Planning Fayza Aboul Naga, Minister of Social Solidarity Gouda Abdel-Khalek, Minister of Electricity and Energy Hassan Younis, Finance Minister Hazem Beblawi, Education Minister Ahmad Gamal al-Din Moussa, Health Minister Amr Helmy, and Tourism Minister Mounir Fakhry Abdel Nour. [al-Youm al-Saba’a, Arabic, 11/29/2011] 


8) The head of the Amnesty International fact-finding mission in Egypt, Said al-Haddadi, said that there were no violations of human rights during the first day of polling. [al-Youm al-Saba’a, Arabic, 11/29/2011] 

9) The Supreme State Security Court ruled on November 27 to extend the detention of Egyptian blogger Alaa Abdel Fattah for another 15 days pending an investigation into charges of unlawful assembly, vandalism and resisting arrest during the Maspero events of 9 October. During a five-hour follow-up hearing on November 28, three new charges were made against Fattah, including intent to commit a terrorist attack. [al-Masry al-Youm, English, 11/28/2011] [al-Masry al-Youm, English, 11/29/2011] 


10) The Egyptian pound fell to 6.0036 to the US dollar on November 29, its lowest level in almost seven years. [Reuters, English, 11/29/2011] 


11) Attackers set off explosives early on November 28 along a gas pipeline in the northern Sinai area, forcing a shutdown and halting exports to Jordan and Israel in the ninth such attack this year. [AP, English, 11/28/2011] 

Photo Credit: Reuters

Image: Egyptian%20man%20votes.jpg