Egyptians came out to vote on Monday in record numbers after months of doubts regarding the election and more than 10 preceding days of violence against protesters by security forces.
Egypt’s Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF) and the high election commission kept polls open two extra hours and supervised the voting, reporting no major violations or security incidents in the country’s first free and fair election for more than 80 years.
One exception is that a number of candidates up for the vote claimed irregularities took place outside certain booths that may boost votes for the Muslim Brotherhood, the bloc most likely to garner a majority vote.
The Muslim Brotherhood was an illegal political party under Mubarak and had its members harassed, detained, and tortured for years. Now, managing to remain cohesive through the years, they are primed for major political victories to the detriment of those who dislike their Islamist leanings towards Sharia law.
The liberals of Egypt – those who broadly favor markets, democracy and social freedoms – are among those critical of the Muslim Brotherhood. Issandr El Amrani, popular Egyptian blogger who sympathizes with the youth protesters in Tahrir Square, sees them as siding with the SCAF and unfriendly to true reform. “At this point,” he wrote just before the elections, “of the major parties only the Muslim Brothers and al-Wafd are not officially backing the protests as far as I can tell.”
The SCAF have instead demanded the endorsement of new “interim Prime Minister” Kamal el-Ganzouri, while warning the mass of protesters (which he termed “troublemakers”) not to meddle in the elections. Liberal figure Mohamed ElBaradei, on the other hand, is siding with the youth protest movement instead.
The United States has continued its economic and military support for Egypt’s ruling military junta, despite continuing human rights violations and harsh crackdowns on non-violent protesters. A report by Amnesty International released this week warned that SCAF abuses and U.S. support may unfortunately overshadow the elections.
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