GLOBALPOST EGYPT LIVE BLOG: ROUND TWO
UPDATE: 12/14/11 12:20 PM ET / 7:20 PM CAIRO
Polls in Egypt are now closed for the day. Voting in the second stage of Egypt's parliamentary election will resume tomorrow.
Please visit the Casbah for any new developments about the vote today.
UPDATE: 12/14/11 11:56 AM ET / 6:56 PM CAIRO
Voters are scrambling to get inside their polling stations - 'lagna' in Arabic - before the election ends for the day.
Just a few minutes to go:
UPDATE: 12/14/11 11:26 AM ET / 6:26 PM CAIRO
Are Egyptians voting in this election because they don't have the money to do otherwise?
Ahram Online reports that eligible voters who don't submit ballots at polling stations (unless they have a "valid excuse") will be fined 500 Egyptian pounds (roughly $85).
That certainly might explain the high voter turnout:
[Pic via Ahmed Gamal El Dieb]
UPDATE: 12/14/11 11:07 AM ET / 6:07 PM CAIRO
UPDATE: 12/14/11 10:49 AM ET / 5:49 PM CAIRO
Anne Patterson, the U.S. ambassador to Egypt, told reporters on Wednesday that Egypt's parliamentary elections have so far been “highly successful.”
Ahram Online reports:
“I want to congratulate the Egyptian people for the highly successful parliamentary elections,” Patterson told reporters after visiting one of the polling stations in the Dokki district of Giza.
“Although there were minor violations in the first round, the process was smooth and transparent.
“There are many American observers who are following the elections; they said it went very well. Two stages are remaining, we will see what happens.”
“The US will deal with any party chosen by the Egyptian people. Democracy is all about the will of people,” she said in response to questions about how her country plans to deal with Islamist early victories in Egypt's polls.
UPDATE: 12/14/11 10:37 AM ET / 5:37 PM CAIRO
Sunset over Cairo, Egypt on Wednesday, via Nick Rowlands:
After a relatively quiet day at the polls, some Egyptians started wondering if the calm would last:
UPDATE: 12/14/11 10:20 AM ET / 5:20 PM CAIRO
A 30-minute gunfight broke out in a Giza playground on Wednesday, according to Al-Masry Al-Youm. The fight was reportedly between supporters of two rival parliamentary candidates:
Security forces closed the Khaled Ibn al-Waleed School polling station in southern Giza for two hours after an armed fight broke out between two families supporting different candidates. The families exchanged gunfire in the school playground for half an hour, according to authorities.
No one was injured or killed, said Wael al-Shorbagui, the judge overseeing the electoral committee where the fight took place.
UPDATE: 12/14/11 10:13 AM ET / 5:13 PM CAIRO
UPDATE: 12/14/11 9:59 AM ET / 4:59 PM CAIRO
Proud Egyptian voters have taken to the Twittersphere to display their 'election ink' for the world to see:
[Images via YFrog. Click on a picture to see the source]
UPDATE: 12/14/11 9:49 AM ET / 4:49 PM CAIRO
Kristin Chick reports that Egypt's liberal and secular parliamentary campaigns have learned a quite a few lessons after being decimated in the first round of the elections:
Liberal parties were criticized for weak outreach in the first round, relying too heavily on banners and television ads and leaving the street campaigning to the Brotherhood and Nour. In Suez, the Free Egyptians Party has taken that criticism to heart. Ramy Yaacoub, a senior campaign strategist for the party, says the campaign staff in Suez worked in Cairo and Alexandria during the first round. They’ve combined their expertise in the small governorate, pushing a more on-the-ground approach since they arrived.
“In Cairo we had mass media and huge billboards and talked to community leaders. Now we have more talking to individuals, the voters themselves, while still trying to maintain contacts with [community leaders like] a group of physicians, or leadership of a community like the Sufis,” says Mr. Yaacoub. “Also we did not rely so heavily on printed advertising. We've been using more of a word-of-mouth campaign. Suez is a small governorate and small community and word travels fast in small communities.”
UPDATE: 12/14/11 9:35 AM ET / 4:35 PM CAIRO
Polls are scheduled to close across Egypt in just over 3 hours. As Gulf News reports, there have been very few reports of anything other than minor irregularities in the election so far:
The only reported incident of violence occurred in the district of Al Saf in Giza, near Cairo, where supporters of two rival contenders clashed over illegal canvassing, reported state television. Soldiers on duty immediately intervened and rounded up the "rioters", according to the report.
"Since 8am, 99 per cent of the polling stations were open," said Abdul Moez Ebrahim, the head of an independent commission tasked by Egypt's military rulers to oversee the elections.
"There were very few problems at some polling stations where delegates representing the candidates failed to show up on time," he told a press conference in Cairo.
Local monitor groups cited instances of illegal canvassing outside polling booths, mainly in rural areas. Illegal cmpaigning was among the main violations reported in the first round held in late November.
UPDATE: 12/14/11 9:16 AM ET / 4:16 PM CAIRO
Another great picture of a voter ululating from Heba Fahmy, a reporter covering Egypt's election from Suez:
UPDATE: 12/14/11 9:03 AM ET / 4:03 PM CAIRO
Egypt's King Farouk, by the way, was forced to abdicate the throne in 1952:
UPDATE: 12/14/11 8:52 AM ET / 3:52 PM CAIRO
A parliamentary candidate from Upper Egypt who was reported to have died this morning, is apparently alive and well, according to election officials.
Al-Masry Al-Youm reported the following at 5:20 AM ET / 12:20 PM CAIRO on their live blog:
Atef Adawy, a candidate for the single-winner seat Sohag’s first constituency, died of a heart attack around one hour after the polls opened.
Ahram Online reported something similar at 5:33 AM ET / 12:33 PM CAIRO:
Atef El-Sayed, an independent candidate in Sohag, sadly passed away this morning from a heart attack.
Later in the day, Ahram ran another line on their blog at 8:27 AM ET / 3:27 PM CAIRO:
In an ongoing press conference, Abdel Moez Ibrahim, head of the SEC, told reportesr an earlier report (see 12:33) that Atef El-Sayed, an independent candidate in Sohag, had died from a heart attack. He blamed rumour-mongering for the false news story.
UPDATE: 12/14/11 8:33 AM ET / 3:33 PM CAIRO
UPDATE: 12/14/11 8:26 AM ET / 3:26 PM CAIRO
Al-Masry Al-Youm confirms that detained blogger Maikel Nabil can not appeal his sentencing on Wednesday.
The ruling, made by the Supreme Military Court of Appeals, follows an appeal to an earlier verdict that sentenced Nabil to three years in prison. Since this is a military trial, the verdict cannot be appealed again.
AFP also reports on the Nabil sentencing:
Nabil, who had criticized the ruling military on his blog and called on people to avoid the draft, had been sentenced to three years in April in a widely criticized trial.
He has been on hunger strike since August. His brother Mark told AFP that Nabil "will escalate his hunger strike. He was drinking juice and milk, but now will only drink water."
The military took charge after an uprising forced President Hosni Mubarak to resign in February.
It has faced criticism for sentencing thousands of civilians in military courts for offences ranging from assault and rape to insulting the ruling generals.
In September, the military denied Nabil was a "prisoner of conscience."
"What Nabil wrote on his blog is unrelated to opinion; it was a clear transgression of all boundaries of insult and libel, and manufactured lies against the armed forces," the official MENA news agency quoted a military official as saying.
Some have openly questioned why Nabil was sentenced on Wednesday, in the middle of Egypt's parliamentary elections:
UPDATE: 12/14/11 8:07 AM ET / 3:07 PM CAIRO
UPDATE: 12/14/11 7:55 AM ET / 2:55 PM CAIRO
Meanwhile, a prominent Egyptian blogger has been sentenced to two years in a military prison, according to Ahram Online.
Maikel Nabil, 25, was arrested in March shortly after he posted a blog that criticized Egypt's ruling military leadership. In April, Nabil was sentenced to 3 years in prison. His appeals process ultimately ended today, reported Ahram:
The verdict was returned by a military trial today after the case was adjourned five times over the past few months.
In addition to the fine, the military prosecution at the C28 military court also ruled that Nabil must pay LE 300 as fees for the military lawyers who represented him during the appeal.
“Yes, he was sentenced to two years in jail, fined and obliged to pay the fees of the military lawyers representing him,” Naguib El-Masry, one of the activists supporting Nabil, told Ahram Online.
Nabil was slammed a three-year sentence by a military court in April after criticising the army's role in the January 25 Revolution through a blog post entitled “The army and the people were never one hand.”
To protest his sentence, Nabil went on hunger strike and has abstained from food for over 100 days.
His family, meanwhile appealed against the sentence as the case turned into a public opinion matter. It is understood Wednesday’s ruling left no room for more legal maneuvers with Egypt’s military trial that shall reduce the sentence.
More from GlobalPost: Egyptian press still not free
“Maikel is the first prisoner of conscience in Egypt after the revolution,” Adel Ramadan, one of Nabil's lawyers, told the New York Times in a telephone interview back in April. “This ruling is a warning to all journalists, bloggers and human rights activists in Egypt that the punishment for criticizing the army is a sentence in a military prison.”
Here is Nabil's blog post that criticized Egypt's Supreme Council of the Armed Forces.
Earlier this year, Nabil also uploaded a controversial video calling on Israel to support Egyptian protesters during their 18-day mass demonstration that ultimately led to the ouster of president Hosni Mubarak.
We will continue to follow this developing story here.
UPDATE: 12/14/11 7:16 AM ET / 2:16 PM CAIRO
UPDATE: 12/14/11 6:59 AM ET / 1:59 PM CAIRO
Here's another sign of heavy turnout in some districts: This Egyptian voter has been waiting in a line at a polling station for 2 hours - and expects at least another 2 before she can finally get to the ballot box.
UPDATE: 12/14/11 6:53 AM ET / 1:53 PM CAIRO
The Arabist published a list of things to look for in the second stage of Egypt's parliamentary elections. Here's a couple of them:
The [Supreme Council of the Armed Forces] has promised to be more vigilant about campaign violations, since hundreds of complaints (including about a dozen lawsuits to have the whole elections cancelled) have been filed. Let's see if they enforce things more stringently this time around — personally, I doubt it. But at least they will have had more time to prepare and get things right inside the polling stations.
Last round, there were long queues on the first day of voting and few people out the second. This time around, expect some voters to skip the first day expecting the second to be faster.
Read the whole post here.
UPDATE: 12/14/11 6:18 AM ET / 1:18 PM CAIRO
Here's a picture from the Muslim Brotherhood's official Twitter account that shows the massive lines forming outside polling stations in Egypt on election day:
For more information about the MB on Twitter, read Nick Kristof's recent story or this great profile on @Ikhwanweb from Foreign Policy. From the FP piece:
"Miriam" (she prefers to use a pseudonym, for "security reasons") is one of the admins of @Ikhwanweb, the official English-language Twitter page for Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, one of the most prominent Islamist organizations in the world. Ikhwanweb, the Muslim Brotherhood's official English website, started the twitter account @Ikhwanweb back in 2009. For years, the account was a robotic-curated Twitter feed which did little more than link to the website's posts. But Miriam has recently helped transform the account into a virtual coliseum for some of Egypt's most heated debates.
UPDATE: 12/14/11 6:03 AM ET / 1:03 PM CAIRO
The initial results of turnout for Egyptian expatriate voters is starting to come in, and Ahram Online has been publishing it on their Egypt elections blog:
In Bahrain, 790 out of the 956 (82.6 per cent) Egyptians registered at the embassy in Manama voted in the second round. Ambassdor to Italy, Mohamed Farid Mounib, says that 50 per cent of registered voters took part in Rome and the consulate in Milan. Results from voting in Jordan have been sent to Cairo, according to Ambassador Amr Abu El-Atta.
Counting has finished for Egyptian expat votes in Saudi Arabia. The Egyptian embassy in the capital Riyadh and consulate in the coastal city of Jeddah have sent the results of second round voting to the Foreign Ministry and the Supreme Electoral Commission (SEC).
According to preliminary figures, the number of voters who took part is down around 20 per cent from those in the first round when 35,000 took part.
The expat vote could be a major wildcard in Egypt's parliamentary election - if the system works properly. Here's from the GlobalPost election primer:
Just over a month before the start of the PA elections, an Egyptian court ruled that its citizens living overseas should have the right to vote — a first for the country’s millions of expatriates, and a key demand of protesters in Tahrir.
But with so little time to prepare before the election, and with basic information about the methods of expat voting still undeclared, very few are confident that that the system will work.
The government does not maintain statistics on the number of Egyptians living abroad. Official figures place the number of expatriates at seven million, while some independent estimates are as high as 10 million.
UPDATE: 12/14/11 5:35 AM ET / 12:35 PM CAIRO
GlobalPost’s Charles Sennott has visited three polling stations in Giza today, and reports that one of them had such an unexpectedly high turnout that it temporarily had to close its doors to voters.
The Ahmed Orabi elementary school, a polling station located in the working-class Imbaba district just across the Nile River from Cairo, has long lines of voters that wrap completely around the school yard, according to Sennott.
There was a some commotion among voters when they thought officials were closing the polls for the entire day, Sennott said.
The school, however, only closed for a short period.
Emad Mounir, one of the Egyptian judicial officials administering the vote at Ahmed Orabi, admitted that “they are a bit disorganized” today.
Mounir said that Egyptian police - which are guarding the polling stations along with Egypt’s military - are not doing enough outside the polls to organize the heavy flow of voters.
But other than a bit of confusion - and a few campaign posters hanging too close to the polls - there are no major problems with the vote today, said Mounir.
Mounir would certainly know what to look for.
He also worked as a polling official during the 2005 and 2010 parliamentary elections, which were marred by allegations of fraud, rigging, and intimidation of voters.
“Back then, they were rigged,” Mounir told GlobalPost. “[Elections then] were a complete fraud. This time we are not seeing any major irregularities.”
[Pic via Adel Abdel Ghafar]
UPDATE: 12/14/11 5:03 AM ET / 12:03 PM CAIRO
Some of the biggest showdowns in the elections today and tomorrow will be Islamists versus Islamists. Mohamed Elmenshawy reports on the first phase of voting, which resulted in large wins for the Muslim Brotherhood and the more conservative Salafist Nour Party:
During the electoral campaign, both the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafis parties used the same slogan to incite voter enthusiasm and garner electoral support: "Islam is the Solution." Although their plans, policies, support-bases, and philosophies of governance vary greatly from each other, both Islamic blocs competed intensely in the first round of elections. While some anticipate a potential union of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafis, a collision is more likely as the two groups battle to exert political control and chart a new course for Egypt. The Islamists' strong showing in the Egyptian elections introduces new, important considerations for the political equation inside Egypt and its relations with the international community.
[Pic of voters lining up outside a polling station in Suez via Aya el Batrawy]
UPDATE: 12/14/11 4:54 AM ET / 11:54 AM CAIRO
Voting for the party list candidates has been postponed in three entire governorates because of problems with the ballots, reports Ahram Online:
The biggest disruption of the day so far comes with the news that parliamentary elections for the electoral lists in the governorates of Beheira, Sohag and Menoufiya have been postponed for a week to 21 and 22 December. The move comes after an administrative court ruling that some parties were not included on the ballot paper in the second constituencies of Beheira and Sohag and Menoufiya’s first constituency.
Commenting on the decision to postpone voting, Youssri Abdel-Kerim, a member of the Supreme Electoral Commission said: “We took this step out of respect to the court's verdict. We have to implement the court ruling regardless of any difficulties.”
UPDATE: 12/14/11 4:42 AM ET / 11:42 AM CAIRO
39 polling stations in Egypt have yet to open - more than 3 hours after the voting was supposed to begin, according to Ahram Online:
The main cause for delay seems to be the absence of judges assigned to monitor the stations.
In Giza alone, 18 polling stations remain closed to voters. Meanwhile seven are likewise shut in the Delta governorate of Beheira and Sohag in Upper Egypt. Voters in Sharqiya, Beni Suef and Aswan have also been left outside.
The president of the National Council for Human Rights, Hazem Mounir, reports that 35 complaints have already been filed concerning today's voting. The failure of some polling stations to open on time is the main source of grievance.
More from GlobalPost in Cairo: Egypt election: Signs of fraud, vote-buying and corruption
UPDATE: 12/14/11 4:37 AM ET / 11:37 AM CAIRO
GlobalPost's Erin Cunningham reports low voter turnout in Beni Suef so far:
Elsewhere in Egypt, there are plenty of reports of long lines and excitement at the polls.
This pic below shows a large crowd of women waiting to vote outside a polling station in Giza.
[Pic via Ian Lee]
UPDATE: 12/14/11 4:27 AM ET / 11:27 AM CAIRO
The "most confusing ballot ever conceived"?
Here's an excerpt from GlobalPost's Egypt Elections primer:
The complex election laws of 2011 were implemented by SCAF, based mostly on recommendations from Egypt’s civil society and political groups as a way of leveling the playing field by reducing the likelihood of a sweep by remnants of Mubarak’s disbanded National Democratic Party (NDP). Mubarak’s former ruling political party maintains a large grassroots movement that was left mostly intact following the uprising.
But the result is a confusing system that will require each voter to submit multiple ballots on election day, possibly with long waiting periods in between for runoffs, according to the Washington, D.C.-based International Foundation for Electoral Systems.
“These issues also pose great and unknown challenges to the legitimate and successful administration of the new election system,” stated the IFES in a briefing paper on November 1. “There is a significant need to educate voters and administrators about the new election system and limited available time to accomplish this important task.”
[Pic via Adel Abdel Ghafar]
UPDATE: 12/14/11 4:11 AM ET / 11:11 AM CAIRO
The pic below shows just how exciting these parliamentary elections are for many Egyptian voters, many of whom never went to the ballot boxes during the 30-year-old regime of Hosni Mubarak.
[via Al-Jazeera's Adam Makary]
UPDATE: 12/14/11 4:00 AM ET / 11:00 AM CAIRO
Polls have been open in Egypt for 3 hours. Already, there have been several reports of journalists being denied access to polling stations - even with proper government press credentials.
And another in Suez:
UPDATE: 12/14/11 3:40 AM ET / 10:40 AM CAIRO
Lauren Bohn writes about the election battle for Upper Egypt in FP:
Assiut feels far away from the famed epicenter of Tahrir Square. The oft-neglected peripheral region of Upper Egypt (the cultivated valley of the Nile from Cairo in the north to Aswan, 535 miles south) has been plagued by institutional apathy for years, long dismissed as a dead-end, from where one travels to the capital for work and never returns. When Egypt's contentious de-facto leaders, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), speak of a silent but loyal majority, or "liberals," fret about the backward religious and violence-prone rural areas, they have cities like Assiut in mind. But the reality is far more complicated. Assiut and Tahrir are bound together by personal connections and shared concerns -- inextricable ties that suggest a far more nuanced emerging Egypt than is generally felt from the central nerve of Cairo.
UPDATE: 12/14/11 3:29 AM ET / 10:29 AM CAIRO
UPDATE: 12/14/11 3:26 AM ET / 10:26 AM CAIRO
Egypt's Supreme Elections Commission will hold a press conference today 8:00 AM ET / 3:00 PM CAIRO. We will update this blog with news from the conference later today.
UPDATE: 12/14/11 3:05 AM ET / 10:05 AM CAIRO
One cynical Egyptian voter tells AFP why he does not believe in the voting process:
People need to be educated about the elections. So far, we don't know who will win and who will lose. We don't trust these elections. In fact, we no longer trust anyone, and no longer believe any future president or parliament can be reliable.
UPDATE: 12/14/11 3:00 AM ET / 10:00 AM CAIRO
GlobalPost's Erin Cunningham is on the ground in Beni Suef, a few hours south of the capital, Cairo. From her Twitter account:
UPDATE: 12/14/11 2:44 AM ET / 9:44 AM CAIRO
Polls have been open across the country for less than 2 hours, but already there are several reports that indicate a heavy turnout.
Hannah Allam, the Egypt correspondent for McClatchy, tweets:
Here are a few other Twitter reports from the polling stations (here, here, and here).
Voter turnout in the first phase of Egypt's parliamentary election was 52 percent.
More from Round 1: Egypt had lower voter turnout, says 'tired' election official
UPDATE: 12/14/11 2:21 AM ET / 9:21 AM CAIRO
How does Egypt's ultraconservative Salafist Nour Party present images of women on their banners and signs?
The Casbah reported on this earlier this month, citing Lebanon's Al-Ahbar newspaper:
As part of its electoral campaign the Salafist party al-Nour distributed a poster with the image of a rose instead of the face of their female candidate. The party told the public that the candidate wears the niqab (full face veil), so it would have been useless to have her photo on the poster.
Al-Nour party had already voiced religious objections to running female candidates in the upcoming parliamentary elections. Nevertheless, they relented to include female candidates in their list because the new electoral law mandates that party slates must contain at least one woman candidate.
However the Salafist party listed the names of its female candidates at the very bottom of the slate, reducing their chances of winning a seat in parliament.
Here's a picture of a Nour Party campaign sign taken today in Beni Suef, south of Cairo, by the Time Magazine Egypt correspondent. The picture shows Nour's female candidate - completely blacked out - on the right of the poster.
UPDATE: 12/14/11 2:06 AM ET / 9:06 AM CAIRO
The majority of Egyptian voters believe that the first round of elections held last month was transparent, free, and fair - in contrast to the way elections were run under Mubarak and his ruling National Democratic Party (NDP). The NDP won landslide victories in previous parliamentary elections, but always amid allegations of fraud, vote-rigging, and even state-sponsored violence at or near polling stations.
More from Round 1: As polls close, Egypt closes in on democracy
To get a sense of just how different this election has been so far, here's our report on the pre-election government crackdown on Egypt's largest Islamist movement - the Muslim Brotherhood - from 2010:
Recent campaign events held by the Islamic group in cities throughout the country have been cut short by state security using tear-gas, beatings and detentions to disperse the crowds.
“[The ruling NDP has] to use police force to stop our candidates from winning elections,” said Ramadan Omar, a Muslim Brotherhood parliamentary candidate in the Helwan district just south of Cairo.
Intimidation of candidates and voters, however, is nothing new for Egypt.
This June, in the days following the upper house election for parliament, widespread reports of official fraud and vote-rigging surfaced.
In the months leading up to this election, human rights groups and media professionals also criticized the heightened restrictions that have been placed on Egypt’s independent media, including new limits on mobile phone text messaging and satellite uplinks used by television broadcasters.
And also from 2010 - a GlobalPost video report on the pre-election crackdown:
UPDATE: 12/14/11 1:54 AM ET / 8:54 AM CAIRO
One of the governorates voting today is Menoufiya.
Menoufiya, in Egypt's lush northern Delta region, is the home of the country's deposed former president, Hosni Mubarak. Al-Jazeera reports on how things have changed in Menoufiya in the 10 months since Mubarak's ouster - as well as the rise of Islamist parties inside the governorate.
UPDATE: 12/14/11 1:40 AM ET / 8:40 AM CAIRO
Ahram Online, an English-language division of the state-run Egyptian daily newspaper, reports on the second round of Egypt's parliamentary elections - by the numbers
In Wednesday’s contest, a total of 3,387 candidates (compared to 3,200 in the first stage) will compete for 180 parliamentary seats (compared to 168 seats contested in the first stage).
According to figures issued by the Cabinet Information Decision Support Centre (IDSC), 2,271 candidates will compete for 60 seats reserved for independent candidates, while 1,116 candidates will vie for 120 seats reserved for party lists.
The IDSC also notes that as many as 18.7 million Egyptians will be eligible to vote in this stage. “Not to mention the fact that some 355,000 Egyptians living abroad have also registered to vote in the second round, with most living in Arab Gulf countries,” according to the IDSC.
UPDATE: 12/14/11 1:30 AM ET / 8:30 AM CAIRO
Egyptians head to the polls today to vote in the second phase of the country's parliamentary elections. The following governorates, or districts, within Egypt are voting on Wednesday: Beni Suef, Ismailia, Sharqia, Menoufiya, Suez, Beheira, Aswan, Sohag, and Cairo's sister city - Giza.
Here's a look at how the voting procedure works.
Read this article to find out more about the first round of voting, which started last month.
More from Cairo: How much authority will Egypt’s future parliament have?
And finally, a few posts from the Casbah blog (here, here, and here) covering the initial results from the first phase of Egypt's parliamentary elections.
We will continue updating this blog post throughout the day.