Top News: Low Voter Turnout Continues as Presidential Elections enter Third Day

Egyptian authorities scrambled to rescue the country’s presidential election from the embarrassment of low voter turnout, but few people trickled to the polls Wednesday even after the balloting was extended for a third day.


Early reports indicate low voter turnout as polls open for a third day
Egyptian authorities scrambled to rescue the country’s presidential election from the embarrassment of low voter turnout, but few people trickled to the polls Wednesday even after the balloting was extended for a third day. On Tuesday PM Ibrahim Mahlab threatened to fine those who choose not to vote. He also said that according to the latest reports voter turnout exceeded 30 percent. According to Judge Mosaad Abu Saada, Chief of Alexandria’s electoral commission, voter turnout in the Mediterranean governorate had reached 20 percent as of Tuesday. Divided into two governorates, the restive and sparsely populated Sinai Peninsula also witnessed low turnouts in the north and mediocre turnouts in south over the last two days of the presidential election. Figures from election officials suggest that 20-24 percent of voters took to the polls in the South Sinai governorate, while figures were lower in the more troubled North Sinai governorate, where 10 percent of eligible voters are said to have cast their ballots. An independent Egyptian newspaper quoted a high level source as saying that as of Wednesday afternoon roughly 23.5 million Egyptians had voted in the elections. [Reuters, AP, 5/28/2014]

Sisi and Sabbahi file official complaints against vote extension
The legal advisor for presidential contender Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s campaign filed a formal complaint to the Presidential Elections Commission against the decision to grant Egyptians an extra day to cast their votes. Presidential contender Hamdeen Sabbahi’s campaign also said it filed a formal complaint to the commission to protest the same decision. The PEC chaired by Counselor Anwar Rashad al-Assi said that after thorough examination, it has rejected the legal complaints lodged by the two presidential candidates against its decision to extend the voting to a third day. [Aswat Masriya, 5/28/2014]

Sabbahi’s campaign withdraws delegates from polls
The campaign of presidential candidate Hamdeen Sabbahi withdrew all its delegates from polling stations on Wednesday on the third day of Egypt’s presidential election. Sabbahi’s campaign said in a statement earlier on Wednesday that some of its members were attacked while trying to expose violations. The violations included being prevented by police and army forces from entering polling stations, being kicked out while observing the electoral process, and being arrested and attacked, the statement explained. The campaign said it filed official reports to the PEC, but received no response. Sabbahi’s campaign also denied rumors circulating on social media Tuesday that he would withdraw from the presidential race. In related news Egypt’s Dostour party also withdrew its involvement in the current elections including the party’s support for Sabbahi citing what it called “irregularities and blatant challenges to the law.” [Aswat Masriya, Ahram Online, Mada Masr, Shorouk (Arabic), 5/28/2014]

PEC: Allowing voters to cast ballots without residence restriction will nullify elections
The presidential elections commission (PEC) issued a statement late Tuesday afternoon slamming calls in the media for voters to cast their ballots without residence restrictions in order to raise the turnout in the 2014 poll. The commission stated that it would not allow the voters to cast their ballot without residence restriction because such action can “nullify” the whole elections process. According to PEC the number of voters who cast their ballots without residence restrictions during the Constitutional referendum in January 2014 was only 424,000 not millions as claimed on talk shows. [Ahram Online, Mada Masr, 5/27/2014]

Also of Interest:

  • Advisor Mahmoud Fouri: Five new amendments to the electoral law | Shorouk (Arabic)
  • Health Ministry: Four injured in three governorates trying to cast their votes | Shorouk (Arabic)
  • Nour Party members defy their leaders, boycott elections | Egypt Independent
  • Judges: At this time we have received 110 complaints | Shorouk (Arabic)


Egypt’s courts remain closed during election
As Egypt’s presidential elections entered their third day public offices remained closed. In an effort to boost voter turnout, Egypt’s Prime Minister, Ibrahim Mahlab, declared Tuesday a public holiday granting all public sector employees the day off and closing government offices including the courts. Thousands of judges are also occupied with supervising polling stations across Egypt. [The Cairo Post, 5/27/2014]


Egypt stock exchange plunges following extension of voting
Egyptian stocks fell more than 2.3 percent in the early hours of trading on Wednesday. Shares in Egyptian companies lost $839 million from its market peak after news that presidential elections were extended to a third day sparked a selling spree. [Aswat Masriya (Arabic), 5/28/2014]

Also of Interest:

  • Industry minister bans tuk tuk, motorcycles imports | SIS
  • Mahlab’s day-off costs state LE2 bn in losses | Egypt Independent


MBC says satirical show not returning on Friday
A widely watched satirical show hosted by heart surgeon-turned television host Bassem Youssef will not return on Friday like scheduled and previously announced, the MBC said. MBC apologized to viewers late on Tuesday. The show, which was suspended on April 20 as not to influence voters, was initially scheduled to return on May 30. A hashtag calling for the return Bassem, who rose to fame in 2011 during the uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak, is now trending on Twitter. The channel did not name its reasons for not airing the show on Friday. [Aswat Masriya, 5/27/2014]

Also of Interest:
Rallies in Manshiet al-Nasser to urge citizens to vote | AMAY (Arabic)


Unknown assailants kill Egyptian soldier in Sinai
Egyptian soldier was shot dead by unknown attackers in Sinai’s Rafah on Wednesday, security sources said. The conscript died after receiving a shot to the chest while on duty. The Qaeda-inspired Ansar Beit al-Maqdis group has claimed responsibility for most of the major attacks that took place in the restive Sinai Peninsula, Nile Delta cities and the capital. [Aswat Masriya, Ahram Online, 5/28/2014]

Also of Interest:
Three bombs defused near electoral committees in Fayoum | Shorouk (Arabic)


FM spokesperson says international monitoring mission reports positive
Egypt’s foreign ministry said that it is in regular contact with various regional and international missions that are following the presidential elections. “We aim to help them overcome obstacles, facilitate their task and transfer any requests or inquiries to the Presidential Elections Commission,” said Foreign Ministry spokesperson Badr Badr Abdel Aaty. “Initial reports by heads and members of these missions stated that they have not observed any violations that challenged the integrity of the electoral process.” On Wednesday the US based NGO Democracy International issued a statement criticizing the Egyptian government’s decision to extend voting a third day. The statement said that the government’s decision “harmed” the credibility of elections and “raises more questions about the independence of the election commission, the impartiality of the government, and the integrity of Egypt’s electoral process.” Democracy International said that it will issue a preliminary statement on the elections on Thursday. [Egypt Independent, Aswat Masriya (Arabic), 5/28/2014]

Also of Interest:
Egypt, Algeria discuss preparations for meeting of foreign ministers of Libya neighboring countries | Egypt Independent