CAIRO: Political figures and social commentators largely boycotted yesterday’s referendum on Egypt’s controversial constitutional amendments, passed by the People’s Assembly early last week.
“Yes I will sawat [a word meaning both ‘to vote’ and ‘to scream’]; I will sawat out of disgust, renowned writer of “The Yacoubian Building Alaa Al-Aswany told The Daily Star Egypt.
“It’s a play from beginning to end, he added, saying he was deeply saddened by the government’s violation of peoples’ rights. “I am boycotting because I believe it’s a set-up. Everyone knows it’s meant to push for Gamal Mubarak’s presidency.
Boycotting, he believes, will place pressure on the NDP by “letting them play alone. They want people to play their role. He adds that boycotting has been used repeatedly as a “civil weapon in dictatorships around the world.
Both economist Galal Amin and political analyst Diaa Rashwan are simply continuing their more general personal boycotts of political affairs in the country.
“I haven’t voted in anything since 1956, said Amin, taken aback at the question of whether or not he would be participating in the referendum. “Because since then, he explained, “government elections have been forged. It is so clear to me that this is the case that I found no point in going . It would be silly.
Rashwan, who has written numerous articles on the topic, said that boycotting was a form of political action he has decided to take against the whole political process. The purpose of voting, he says, to improve the political system, which will not be accomplished in the undemocratic process regardless of the actual votes.
Islamic intellectual Gamal Al Banna also boycotted the referendum, though he said he was only concerned about the amendment to Article 88, which would lessen judicial oversight of elections; and Article 76, which is widely seen as consolidating the NDP’s rule at least until 2011.
“I don’t care about the other amendments, he said.
Not all opposition members agree with the boycott however.
Blogger Alaa author of “Alaa and Manal’s bit bucket told The Daily Star Egypt that he thinks “it’s better to take positive action.
He disagrees with the boycott, even if those boycotting had a “valid argument. He added that he learned a lot about the political process by participating. Though he is not optimistic, Alaa does think that there is a small chance that his vote will be counted. “It depends on who’s supervising.
“No one participates in Egypt anyway so it doesn’t feel like a real boycott. It’s more like sitting at home.
Blogger Malek, also known as Malcolm X, said he would probably vote. “Of course it’s not going to be fair but at least I’ll vote so that no one would take my vote.