By MAGGIE MICHAEL, Associated Press
Tue Nov 30, 2010
CAIRO – Egypt's liberal opposition parties called on Tuesday for the cancellation of parliamentary elections after alleged vote rigging appears to have secured an overwhelming victory for the ruling party.
The liberal Wafd party said that the government had violated a "presidential promise" to have free and fair elections and that in the absence of credible supervision of the elections, fraud was rampant.
The party statement, carried in its newspaper, accused the ruling National Democratic party of "raping" its legitimacy by depending on thugs and "undemocratic" practices, such as ballot stuffing, to win.
The election "witnessed the massacre of democracy and freedom in Egypt," the statement said. "The ruling party's undemocratic practices ... raped its legitimacy with its assault on the law and the constitution."
Ayman Nour, head of the liberal Ghad party, condemned elections as "a scandal," and called on the Egyptian people to reject its results. Nour was among few opposition voices that adhered to an elections boycott, anticipating fraud, though a rebel faction of the party did run candidates.
Official results are to be announced Tuesday, but so far the NDP has won 170 of the 508 seats outright while only a handful went to the opposition. The remaining seats are will be decided in a runoff Sunday.
On Monday, the Obama administration said it was disappointed by widespread reports of irregularities which cast doubt on the credibility of the polls in this strong U.S. ally.
"We are also dismayed by reports of election-day interference and intimidation by security forces. These irregularities call into question the fairness and transparency of the process," spokesman P.J. Crowley said in a statement.
While a few of al-Wafd's 222 candidates made it to the parliament, none of the 130 candidates of the Muslim Brotherhood group, the most organized and popular opposition movement, won, though 27 will participate in run-offs.
Egyptian papers carried pictures and testimonies about the widespread stuffing of ballot boxes and how thugs backed by police dominated the polling stations from when they opened.
One video posted on You Tube showed an election employee methodically filling in ballots, folding them and then dropping them into a ballot box. It was not possible to verify authenticity of the video which was said to be filmed in the town of Belbais in Sharqiya province, north of Cairo.
The independent daily Al-Masry Al-Youm also published pictures of a man sitting between two ballot boxes, dropping in ballots with both hands.
Sporadic riots and demonstrations erupted in the aftermath of election day following announcements of preliminary results. Protesters set fire to cars, tires and two polling stations. In several cases, police used tear gas to disperse the demonstrations.
A coalition of local and international rights groups reported that opposition candidate representatives and independent monitors were barred from almost all polling stations around the country, leaving the way open for vote fraud.
The High Election Commission dismissed reports of violence or irregularities during the voting, saying that the few incidents it uncovered "did not undermine the electoral process as a whole."