BADAWAY, Egypt: Tear gas filled the air and the sound of gun shots echoed throughout a number of normally subdued Delta villages as the third round run-offs for the people’s assembly took place, concluding a month of parliamentary elections.
Riot police formed human barricades outside polling stations and angry would-be voters, many of them Muslim Brotherhood supporters,waved their fists, shouting insults and slogans associated with the Muslim Brotherhood campaign.
“Islam is the solution, and the Quran is the constitution, chanted hundreds of protestors gathered outside a barricade in Badaway. “God is great, God is great.
Two Muslim Brotherhood supporters were killed in the Governorate of Damietta, further aggravating sentiments that the state security is exhausting all measures to prevent the banned Islamic group from making further gains. At least two people were killed in last weeks initial phase of round three’s voting. One person was also killed in round two in Alexandria.
The Muslim Brotherhood has already earned a record 76 seats in parliament, surpassing their 1987 total of 36 seats. When the final tally is announced later today, the Muslim Brotherhood is expected to earn a few more seats, though analysts are skeptical that their wins from the final round will exceed 10 seats.
Local residents, meanwhile, were eager to report incidents of violence and abuse, calling it a depravation of their liberty. “This is exactly like Palestine, said Khaled Abdelaziz, a taxi driver from the village of Teerah. “They have been shooting us since the morning, how can anyone live like this?
Empty tear-gas canisters and rubber bullets littered the streets of Teerah and Badaway. Han El Zaghloul, an 18-yearold resident of Teerah, exposed her shoulder to show a perfectly round, bloody rubber-bullet wound.
“They shot me in front of my house, she said. “I was standing on the street and when I ran away they chased me and shot me.
“For several days we haven’t seen our home, we haven’t slept, cried Mansour Talaat Mansour,a Muslim Brotherhood supporter from Badaway. “The security forces have taken over the town – it’s really terrible.
Journalists were prohibited from getting near to many polling stations with reported violence. Several photographers were greeted with hostility, and officials in a number of areas were confiscating cameras.
Ministry of Interior spokesman, Ibrahim Hammad, released a statement yesterday evening assuring the public that the closing round of elections was business as usual.
“The election process is going normally, the statement read, citing problems in only 10 districts provoked by Muslim Brotherhood “thugs.
The statement continued by saying that police were protecting judges “and helping voters to reach the ballot boxes.
At all but one voting station observed by The Daily Star Egypt, agitated voters were locked out. In many cases, monitors stood outside on balconies, observing the clashes between townspeople and police.
Throughout the electoral proceedings, reports of ballot fraud and irregularities overshadowed the results, which have been much anticipated, following the results of this year’s first ever multi-candidate presidential election, during which President Hosni Mubarak easily claimed an 88 percent victory.
Heightened opposition in the nation’s political system over the past year caused many to question whether the National Democratic Party’s dominance would carry out in the parliamentary elections.