Live blog: Egypt's Presidential Elections 2012
Thursday, May 24, 2012
Millions of Egyptians are expected to cast their ballots today in the final day of voting for the country's new president and Al-Akhbar English in collaboration with Egypt Independent will bring you all the latest updates as they unfold.
As we approach the cut-off point for voting, here's a summary of the day's events.
- Millions of Egyptians voted across the country in their first meaningful presidential elections.
- Turnout was lower than hoped for, with monitors saying it was likely to be about 50 percent.
- There were no major accusations of fraud, but there were minor complaints and fights at least one polling station.
- Exit polls said the result was too close to call, with five candidates fighting for two spots in the run-off.
- Those candidates are Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohammed Mursi, Nasserist Hamdeen Sabahi, former Muslim Brotherhood member Abdel Moneim Abul-Fotouh, former Arab League chief Amr Moussa and former Mubarak-era prime minister Ahmed Shafik.
Published: Thursday, May 24, 2012 - 21:39
When is a press conference not a press conference? When its a tour...
The Egypt Independent reports on Amr Moussa's latest way of getting around the ban on campaigning that came into force two days ago and which has been widely abused by all candidates.
In an attempt to hold a press conference without violating the law, Moussa called journalists to his headquarters for a press conference then asked them to walk with him to a polling station nearby so that it would be technically considered a candidate touring polling stations and not a press conference. Moussa's aim of holding the press conference/tour was to urge people to vote.
“I want to tell everyone to go vote and take part in this democratic process and in building their country. Vote for whoever you want, but participate.”
Published: Thursday, May 24, 2012 - 20:37
The results of this election may well leave us with more questions than answers as the two top candidates face a run-off next month.
The Guardian's Ian Black has written an analysis of which candidates would be likely to beat which others.
If Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohammed Mursi is likely to get the most votes in this first round, then who would he most like to be against in the run-off? Black thinks Nasserist Hamdeen would be the most easy to beat.
In this run-off scenario, the independent Nasserist "one of us" candidate would be likely to win the support of much of the anti-Islamist camp, but there could be a low turnout, which would favour the Brotherhood's man.
Published: Thursday, May 24, 2012 - 20:10
At least one policeman has been injured and a number of campaigners have been hospitalized after clashes between rival supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafi Al-Nour Party south of Cairo.
Al-Akhbar correspondent Sarah al-Sirgany has visited the town of Senorous, near to Faiyum, where the fighting happened, and described the scene.
"The competition is mainly between the Muslim Brotherhood, who are campaigning for Mohammed Mursi, and the Al-Nour party who are campaigning for Abdel Moneim Abul-Fotouh."
"The competition turned into a fight and there are injuries at the hospital but I haven't had an accurate number of injured. It started last night and it resumed this morning."
"This is outside Rady school in the area, which is a polling station for women. There is one policeman injured due to the fight."
"The voters who have chosen other candidates like Amr Moussa and Hamdeen Sabahi have accused the others of trying to get voters from their houses."
Published: Thursday, May 24, 2012 - 19:32
If Hamdeen Sabahi were to finish second (see 5.42) and make the run-off then that would be a major shock.
The Nasserist has had a tiny war chest to fight the election with when compared to the other candidates, and did not have much of a profile going into the campaign.
People have been reacting to his late surge on Twitter.
Am really proud of what Hamden Sbahy did in this narrow timing with this kind of low funding.
— Sabry ☭ خaled (@sabrykhaled) May 24, 2012
Almost fell over when a niqabi in Luxor told us she voted for Hamdeen Sabahi. "The veil is on my face, not my mind," she said. #Egypt
— Hannah Allam (@HannahAllam) May 23, 2012
Everyone in Tanta talking about unemployment in youth as most import issue. Hearing more Sabahi votes. #Egyelex
— matthew cassel (@justimage) May 24, 2012
Published: Thursday, May 24, 2012 - 18:48
Turnout in the elections could be as low as 50 percent, according to our Al-Akhbar correspondent in Cairo Bisan Kassab. That would be a shock, and disappointing considering the 62 percent turnout in the parliamentary elections.
"The turnout has been low, we all thought it would be more but until now it looks like the percentage participating is less than the parliamentary elections."
"Some members of the Supreme Election Councils say it may be 50 percent or a little less. That's a surprise of course."
She added that all the candidates had broken the rules by campaigning after the cut-off point three days ago and said Ahmed Shafik has now accused Brotherhood candidate Mohammed Mursi of organizing the mob that threw shoes at him.
"All the candidates are still doing campaigning despite the ban, they are all doing so. All the NGOs that are monitoring the elections are saying so."
"Mursi says he is not doing so and has claimed Shafik is doing so on behalf of him. He is saying Shafik is doing some propaganda to make it look like Mursi is breaking the law," she said.
"In response Shafik claims Mursi's supporters hit him with shoes yesterday."
Published: Thursday, May 24, 2012 - 18:22
A large poll of 60,000 Egyptians done by Al-Jazeera has put Mohammed Mursi ahead of Hamdeen Sabahi, who has barely featured in the pre-election build up.
The two candidates in the televised presidential debates Abdel Moneim Abul-Fotouh and Amr Moussa, are in third and fourth place and would miss the run-off.
— Jamal Elshayyal جمال (@jamalAljazeera) May 24, 2012
If that proved true it would be a major shock.
Published: Thursday, May 24, 2012 - 17:42
Amr Moussa's campaign team must be getting worried as the supposed frontrunners team are now saying he is in second place.
The blogger Bassem Sabry has written: Amr Moussa's campaign spokesperson to CBC: our polls show that our candidate is in second place.
سى بى سى - المتحدث باسم حملة عمرو موسى: احصائيتنا تؤكد احتلال مرشحنا المركز الثانى فى نسبة التصويت بين المرشحين
— Bassem Sabry (@Bassem_Sabry) May 24, 2012
A reminder that second place would still be good enough to make the run-off, but its far from certain Moussa will get it...
Published: Thursday, May 24, 2012 - 17:13
With all the focus on this being a crucial election for democracy in the country, some of the focus on the issues that matter to the people of the nation have been forgotten.
The debate in the agricultural areas is focused around the chronic fuel shortage in the country, according to Sarah al-Sirgany our Al-Akhbar elections correspondent.
She is in a small village called Sayoun in the south of the country.
"There are lot of discussions about the Islamists and candidates like Moussa and Shafik," she said.
"The main issues here is the fuel shortage, and the candidate they think will make most difference to that."
"I have spoken to a lot of drivers who feel the pinch of the fuel shortage. It also effects those in agriculture as the machinery they use all relies on diesel."
"The politicians generally speak about the economic crisis but not specifically about fuel."
Published: Thursday, May 24, 2012 - 16:48
Some very concerning news of an alleged infringement by the Muslim Brotherhood.
Al-Masyr Al-Youm is reporting that Brotherhood supporters are telling female voters the ink on the pens inside becomes invisible after 15 minutes.
Instead they are urging them to take those with the name of their candidate, Mohammed Mursi, into the polling stations. Nice bit of subliminal messaging?
Here is a translated quote from the original article:
The statement, issued by the coalition, said that the female campaigners, working for the Muslim Brotherhood, at Oum al-Mou'menin school at al-Daqhaliyah, warned female voters, inside and outside the stations, of using the SPEC pens and advised them to use their own pens instead, on the pretext that the ink of the pens at the station is erased off the ballot automatically after 15 minutes.
According to the statement, observers, working for Free and Honest Coalition, at al-Manoufiyah district, have noticed the Brotherhood members, warning voters of the pens at the stations, giving them different pens instead. They were also distributing bags to voters, asking them to vote for their candidate Mohammed Mursi.
Published: Thursday, May 24, 2012 - 16:20
- Tags: Muslim Brotherhood
More cheeky electioneering here from the Amr Moussa campaign. He has just released a tweet calling for former Mubarak-era prime minister Ahmed Shafik to stand aside and endorse Moussa.
تصريح عمرو موسى لرصد: أنا في إنتظار تنازل الفريق أحمد شفيق
— Amre Moussa Campaign (@moussacampaign) May 24, 2012
While Shafik has been proud of his role in the Mubarak regime, Moussa - a former foreign minister - has been trying to straddle two horses by being both the change and the continuity candidate..
Published: Thursday, May 24, 2012 - 16:09
News from the man who many initially tipped to challenge for president but whose campaign never really got off the ground.
Mohammed El-Baradei has told the Associated Press that the choices between a reformist, Islamist or pragmatic leader pale in significance when compared to "the basic common values that they're going to live under."
For that to happen, el-Baradei says basic needs such as food and health care in Egypt have to be met better.
"We have a long way to go," el-Baradei said Thursday in Vienna.
Published: Thursday, May 24, 2012 - 15:42
Official counting of the votes is due to start one hour after voting closes, according to the journalist Mohamed Adbelfattah.
Vote counting will start in each polling station an hour after it closes down, says judge at agouza
— Mohamed Abdelfattah (@mfatta7) May 24, 2012
However there should be some exit polls coming out shortly after voting closes.
Published: Thursday, May 24, 2012 - 15:32
Speaking of Al-Azhar's grand sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb (see 2.55pm) he has just released a statement saying any boycott of the vote is forbidden.
Al-Tayyeb said it is forbidden not to cast a ballot if you are an eligible voter with the ability to do so.
Tayyeb described election participation as a responsibility, noting that bribing or attempting to influence voters is illegal.
Tayyeb's comments come amid reports of low voter turnout in the country.
Published: Thursday, May 24, 2012 - 15:06
And here is a Youtube video of Ahmed Shafik being pelted with shoes, a traditional sign of disrespect in the Middle East.
The former prime minister has long been criticized as a pro-Mubarak stooge, saying he can be the stability candidate in the country.
Published: Thursday, May 24, 2012 - 14:30
The Egyptian Grand Mufti of Al-Azhar Ahmed al-Tayeb walking with former US president Jimmy Carter.
Carter is visiting the country to oversee the elections and to try and ensure transparency.
Published: Thursday, May 24, 2012 - 14:25
With the hours ticking by until the polls close the crucial questions are over turnout and who has the momentum.
Al-Akhbar elections correspondent Sarah El-Sirgany in the south of the country says she has been desperately trying to get hold of some reliable information on who is leading and which of the candidates are likely to make the run-off.
"Every campaign of course thinks that they are winning. It is very difficult and there are no reliable polls as yet," she said.
"I spoke to some campaigns and read the statements of others and they all think they are going to make the top two. But it is anybody's guess."
She added that there had been no queues at all and that she expected turnout could be lower than the 62 percent seen for the parliamentary elections.
Published: Thursday, May 24, 2012 - 14:18
Sad news of the death of a man on his way to vote.
The interior ministry has said a 72-year-old man identified as Saleh Abul Magd Ahmed was heading to the polling station at al-Jalaa school in Cairo's al-Dhaher district with his friends to vote, suddenly felt very sick, and died in front of the station.
Published: Thursday, May 24, 2012 - 14:01
On the question of momentum, Jack Shenker Cairo correspondent for The Guardian, suggests that the two Islamist candidates of the so-called "Big four" are feeling confident, while the pro-Mubarak guys are concerned.
He says former Muslim Brotherhood member Abdel Moneim Abul-Fotouh and Brotherhood candidate Mohammed Mursi think they are going to make the top two, Amr Moussa is concerned and Ahmed Shafik is lagging behind.
#EgyPresElex summary: Morsi & Aboul-Fotouh think they've both made the run-off, Moussa worried, Sabahi happy & Shafik is just dodging shoes.
— Jack Shenker (@hackneylad) May 24, 2012
Published: Thursday, May 24, 2012 - 13:58
Elsewhere the US government has announced a cut in aid to Egypt.
US senators subtracted $5 million from aid provided to Egypt on Wednesday, to reimburse the US Treasury for money it paid to bail out American pro-democracy activists facing charges there earlier this year, according to Al-Ahram.
In late December, the Cairo offices of at least five non-governmental organisations (NGOs) were raided by officials from Egypt’s public prosecution office backed by police and military personnel.
The figure is small, a tiny fraction of the $1.7 billion aid budget the US gives to Egypt every year, but it will be seen as a further sign of deteriorating relations between the two countries.
Any president that does come in will have to negotiate those relations, while also trying to develop Egypt's fragile economy.
Published: Thursday, May 24, 2012 - 13:52
Farouk Sultan, chairman of Egypt's Supreme Constitutional Court, has just announced that voting has been extended from 8pm tonight to 9pm across the country.
— Hany Rasmy (@hany2m) May 24, 2012
Published: Thursday, May 24, 2012 - 13:48
It seems that the turnout in these elections may be low. A state TV correspondent in Ismailia city has estimated yesterday's turnout at between 30-35%.
AP's Sarah El-Deeb has just posted that she suspects people may be holding out for next month's run-off between the top two candidates before bothering to go to the polls.
Despite excitement, ppl appear elex burned out. Some r holding out for rerun! #EgyPresElex
— Sarah El Deeb (@seldeeb) May 24, 2012
Published: Thursday, May 24, 2012 - 13:36
As if the Egyptian didn't have enough to fight over, the Reuters wire this morning reports a major oil and gas discovery in the Western Desert area. No word yet from any of the politicians about the find...
Here is the article:
Italy's oil and gas major Eni has made a big oil discovery in the Western Desert of Egypt, part of the group's strategy of refocusing exploration activities in the country by targeting deeper plays in the Western Desert region.
The discovery, at the Emry Deep exploration prospect, located in the Meleiha Concession 290 kilometers south west of Alexandria, is estimated at 150-250 million barrels of oil in place and will require further appraisal drilling, Eni said in a statement on Thursday.
The full field development foresees an early production phase from the current well to be followed by the drilling of other development wells in 2012 to reach a production level of approximately 10,000 barrels of oil per day in coming months.
Published: Thursday, May 24, 2012 - 13:26
The Egyptian comic actor Adel Iman, who qas jailed for insulting Islam earlier this year, has cast his vote according to AFP's Jailan Zayan.
— Jailan Zayan (@jazayan) May 24, 2012
No news yet on who he has backed.
Published: Thursday, May 24, 2012 - 13:18
And so the speculation begins. The official count has not even started but the Muslim Brotherhood is saying its candidate Mohammed Mursi and former Mubarak-era prime minister Ahmed Shafik are the candidates leading.
"The preliminary sorting of Wednesday was in favor of Mohammed Mursi and Ahmed Shafik," a representative of the Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party in Dar al-Salaam told Al-Masry Al-Youm, though he declined to say how he had reached that conclusion.
The government has announced that ballot counting will begin Thursday evening, but several campaigns have announced speculative preliminary exit polls.
However, don't read too much into that as all the candidates are trying their best to get out the vote and this may be a tactic by the Brotherhood to present Mursi as the only alternative to Shafik.
Published: Thursday, May 24, 2012 - 13:02
Welcome to our live blog on the final day of voting. A quick recap of yesterday's events.
- Millions of Egyptians voted in meaningful presidential elections for the first time in their lives.
- There was generally a low turnout, particularly in areas such as Suez, though forecasters have said more people were likely to vote today.
- The main presidential candidates all voted, with polls suggesting a close race between former Arab League chief Amr Moussa, Islamist Abdel Moneim Abul-Fotouh and former Mubarak-era prime minister Ahmed Shafik.
- There were isolated claims of abuse, but no widespread corruption allegations as yet.
- Three of the candidates, including Abul-Fotouh, were referred to prosecutors over claims they campaigned after the official cut-off point.
- Former dictator Hosni Mubarak was technically eligible to vote as he awaits trial, but didn't register in time.
Published: Thursday, May 24, 2012 - 12:57