Run-offs update: Voter turnout poor across Egypt

Election monitors and eyewitnesses today report low voter turnout rates for parliamentary run-off elections in many districts across Egypt.

The High Elections Commission last week said 35 percent of the 41 million eligible Egyptians voted in the first round on Sunday. Opposition forces and independent observers, however, contend turnout rates did not exceed 15 percent.

Most polling stations opened their doors at 9AM today instead of the pre-determined 8AM time.

In Shubra district, few voters showed up to polling stations. Wafd candidate Ramy Lakah is competing against NDP rival Fady Habashy in the district.

Lakah, an influential Christian businessman, is one of five Wafd candidates to defy the party's decision to boycott the runoffs.

Habashy, a former police officer and also a Christian, enjoys the support of the NDP and security apparatus, analysts say.

An Al-Masry Al-Youm reporter said one candidate in Shubra disbursed LE50 payments in exchange for votes.

In Matareyya, turnout is poor thus far in a district where another Wafd candidate Atef al-Ashmuny, despite the party leadership decision, is vying for the district's seat against NDP candidate Nageh Galal. During Sunday’s first round, Matareyya hosted the first elections-related murder.

In Zawya al-Hamra and Sharabiya districts in Cairo, polling stations were reportedly almost empty. The Muslim Brotherhood withdrew from the runoff polls last week, abandoning its bids in these districts. NDP contender Ayman Fathy is expected to win the seat following Brotherhood candidate Kamal Mahdy’s boycott.  

In Sahel district, authorities at Shagaret al-Dorr school polling station denied entry to representatives of independent candidate Saeed Abu Bakr, eyewitnesses said.  

Abu Bakr is competing against NDP contender Sayyed Rostom as well as the district’s current parliamentarian.

In Beni Sueif Governorate, campaigners for Christian NDP candidate Eihab Neiseem reported widespread rigging in favor his rival, Aly Selim, also running on the NDP ticket.

A representative of Wafd candidate, Atef al-Ashmouni, said he was thrown out of a polling station in Matareyya.

"I was out while more than one NDP representative was standing inside," said Mohamed al-Tohamy.

Another Atef al-Ashmouni representative said one polling station was forcibly closed in Matereyya.

Al-Masry Al-Youm's correspondent in the district noted heightened security outside polling centers.

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