Opposition cries foul in Egyptian election

Sun Nov 28, 2010 8:48pm GMT

By Yasmine Saleh and Marwa Awad

CAIRO/ALEXANDRIA (Reuters) - Opposition charges of ballot stuffing, bullying and dirty tricks clouded a legislative election in Egypt on Sunday in which the ruling party wanted to prevent its Islamist rivals from repeating their 2005 success.

Some voters were turned away by officials saying there was no election or that polling booths had shut. Others reported ballot boxes filled to the brim only minutes after voting began, rights groups and opposition campaigners said.

Egypt's election commission said the vote was fair and complaints were being investigated. It added that official results for the whole country would be announced on Tuesday.

The banned Muslim Brotherhood, whose candidates are tacitly allowed to run as independents, contested 30 percent of lower house seats after winning an unprecedented 20 percent in 2005.

But the Islamists expect a lower total this time. Hundreds of their activists were detained ahead of the poll, signalling the government's determination to squeeze its most vocal critics out of parliament before a presidential vote in 2011.

"There's no voting going on, just rigging. It's a disgrace. May those who rig votes be crippled," said Hassan Sallam as he emerged from a polling booth at Raml, in the northern city of Alexandria. "There was no privacy. The ballot boxes were full."

Abdel-Salam Mahgoub, the candidate for the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) in that constituency, denied any abuses.

"These are accusations from people looking for an excuse to cover their failure," he told Reuters. Brotherhood supporters chanted "Void, void" as NDP supporters walked in to vote.   Continued...

<p>A woman casts her vote for the parliamentary election in a school in old Cairo November 28, 2010. REUTERS/Asmaa Waguih</p>
Powered by Reuters AlertNet. AlertNet provides news, images and insight from the world's disasters and conflicts and is brought to you by Reuters Foundation.