Protesters in Qena block railroad over ‘fraudulent’ elections results

Hundreds of supporters of losing candidates in the Upper Egyptian city of Nagaa Hammadi continued to block the railroad on Saturday, protesting what they allege to be massive fraud in the elections conducted on Wednesday and Thursday.

The protestors say there was large-scale fraud in favor of Abdel Rahim al-Ghoul, an independent candidate described by revolutionary forces nationally as one of the most hated figures of the formerly ruling National Democratic Party (NDP).

According to the High Judicial Elections Commission, Ghoul, former head of parliament’s agriculture committee, and another former NDP figure, Fathi Qandil, are competing in the run-off vote for the workers/farmers seat.

The constituency also will witness a run-off for the professional seat between former police general Khalid Khallfallah, also a former NDP member, and Ahmed Dobiyaa, a candidate affiliated with the ultra conservative Nour Party.

This means that all seats allocated for the single winner system in Nagaa Hammadi could go to remnants of the old regime.

Ayman Mokhtar, a Nagaa Hammadi resident, told Egypt Independent in a phone interview that people were surprised to find the election results changed from those announced on Thursday. Ghoul initially came sixth, but was later announced to have won fourth place, which means that he will be competing in the run-off.

The protesters chanted, “The election is invalid,” “ The people want the elections reheld” and “No to feloul”, as several lay down on the railway tracks.

Meanwhile, dozens of candidates in the Nagaa Hammadi, Farshout, Abou Tesht, Deshna and Waqf constituencies said they will file a lawsuit against the committee that oversaw the vote count.

The protesters said the result of elections does 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 the employees overseeing the vote count of colluding in favor of the NDP.

Nahla al-Mehrezy, former MP for north Qena and a candidate at the top of Adl Party’s list, told state news agency MENA that her party came fourth, but the rankings were changed when the results were announced.

Mehrezy added that four ballot boxes were stolen from Abou Tesht and 12 ballot boxes were not sealed when they arrived for vote counting, while others were sealed in the streets.

On Friday night, there were fears that the protests could adversely affect the Coptic Christmas celebrations in Nagaa Hammadi, which has a large Coptic minority.

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