Court annuls Qena election results, blocking famous NDP candidate

The Administrative Court of the Upper Egyptian governorate of Qena issued a verdict on Monday night annulling parliamentary election results from the third phase of voting Nagaa Hammadi constituency.

The annullment means the cancellation of results that had put National Democratic Party (NDP) figure Abdel Rahim al-Ghoul into the run-offs for the third phase. The verdict mandates that the elections be held again.

Allegations of fraud in recent elections sparked uproar because Nagaa Hammadi was likely to be the only constituency dominated by politicians loyal to President Hosni Mubarak's regime. Three of the four candidates slated to compete in the run-offs were former members of Mubarak’s NDP.

With the verdict, the court confirmed suspicions that the counting process was not accurate, and there were clear signs that elections in the constituency were rigged.

Nevertheless, it is unclear if the run-offs will be held on Tuesday, as planned prior to the court decision. The high elections commission may cancel the run-offs in accordance with the verdict, or else ignore the court decision and let them proceed.

Before the ruling, a run-off was scheduled to take place between Ghoul and three other candidates. Among them is Fathi Qandil, an independent candidate described by revolutionary forces nationally as one of the most hated figures from the NDP. Also in contention is former police general and NDP member Khalid Khallfallah. The only candidate with no NDP affiliation is Ahmed Dobiyae, who is linked instead with the Salafi-oriented Nour Party.

Hundreds of supporters of losing candidates in Nagaa Hammadi staged a sit-in at the constituency’s railway station last week, protesting against what they say was massive fraud in the elections conducted on Wednesday and Thursday.

Protesters said the elections results did not reflect the number of votes given to Ali al-Sheshiny, the Freedom and Justice Party candidate, and Abdel Basset al-Sayyed al-Halim, a candidate who has the support of Islamic groups in north Qena. They also accused employees overseeing the vote count of colluding in favor of the NDP.

Monday’s ruling confirmed that their allegations were true.

Following the verdict, Sheshiny supporters who filed the suit celebrated their victory.

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