Voters cast ballots in Qena, El-Wadi El-Gadid in final stage of parliamentary elections

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CAIRO: Qena and Al-Wadi Al-Gadid provinces saw high turnout as voters headed to the polls to cast their ballots in the final round of parliamentary elections, amid reports of violations by different parties.

In Qena, voting turnout was notably high among women and youth, as campaigning in front of polling stations intensified by the Islamists Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) and the Salafi Al-Nour Party.

Qena is divided into two constituencies for the party lists seats, one accounting for four seats and the other eight seats, as well as three single winner constituencies each allocated two seats, totaling 18 seats for the entire Upper Egypt governorate, where 1.5 million are eligible to vote.

"Representatives of these parties are influencing the decisions of the voters by asking them to vote for their lists and candidates, exploiting the weak organization in some polling stations across the province," member of Qena Youth Coalition Bassem Yassin told Daily News Egypt Tuesday.

Yassin said that the FJP, Al-Nour, the Revolution Continues Alliance, Al-Adl and Al-Wafd Parties are the main competitors for the party lists system, with a weak presence for the secular Egyptian Bloc in a province dominated by tribalism.

"The individual seats are predominantly controlled by remnants of the disbanded National Democratic Party (NDP), especially Abdel Rehim El-Ghoul who is contesting the elections in Deshna constituency, and mostly competing with the FJP and Al-Nour candidates," Yassin added.

Army and police forces were notably present in front of polling stations to secure them.

The FJP operations room in Qena reportedly complained about violations including vote buying by candidates of El-Hureya party, an offshoot of the disbanded NDP.

FJP also reported an attack by a candidate of the Free Egyptians Party against FJP female monitors. They also complained about a judge in Deshna directing voters to vote for Al-Wasat Party.

One World Organization documented cases in different constituencies where voters entered polling station in groups to vote, while some elections monitors prevented by army forces from entering polling stations.

The organization also said that campaigning inside polling stations took place and that army forces tried to prevent it.  Campaigning was widespread in the areas surrounding the polling stations across the province with cars touring the cities displaying the slogans of the FJP, Al-Hureya and Al-Nour Parties.

In the border province of El-Wadi El-Gedid, voter turnout was moderately high where less than a quarter of a million people are eligible to vote. The gonvernorate on Egypt’s south-west borders with Sudan and Libya is one constituency allocated four seats in the lists system and two in the individual seats system.

The FJP, Al-Nour, the secular Egyptian Bloc, El-Hureya and Al-Adl parties are competing in the party lists systems in the province where tribalism is key to voters’ choices.

Violations of campaigning in front of polling stations continued by the FJP, Al-Nour and Al-Hureya Parties. One World Organization documented minor fraud practices using the “rotating ballot paper,” where voters enter the station with an already marked ballot and bring out a blank one to prove that their vote went to designated candidate.

FJP, Al-Nour, and El-Hureya Parties are the most likely winners of the party lists votes, followed by the secular Egyptian Bloc. Competition is fierce over the single-winner seats between remnants of the disbanded NDP and FJP candidates.



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