Egypt choice 'a farce' - voters sceptical about honesty of ballot and candidates
Egyptians voted for a second day yesterday in a presidential run-off that pits Hosni Mubarak’s last prime minister against a conservative Islamist.
It has been a contest overshadowed by questions of whether the ruling military will transfer power to civilian authority by July 1 as promised.
Going head-to-head in the run-off are Ahmed Shafiq, a longtime friend and admirer of Mubarak, and Mohammed Morsi, the candidate of the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood. The winner will be officially announced on Thursday but the result could be known by as early today, based on exit polls, although they are not reliable.
The two-day balloting followed a week of political drama in which the military slapped de facto martial law on the country and judges appointed by Mubarak dissolved the freely elected, conservative-dominated parliament.
The generals who took over from Mubarak 16 months ago are expected this week to spell out the powers of the new president and appoint a 100-member panel to draft a new constitution, moves that will further tighten the military’s grip on the nation.
The race between Shafiq and Morsi has deeply divided the country, 16 months after a stunning uprising by millions forced the authoritarian ruler Mubarak to
step down after 29 years in office.
“I’m bitter I have to choose between two people I hate,” said a silver-haired pensioner in Cairo. “Nothing is going to be resolved and Egypt will not see stability.”
A similar note was echoed by voter Yasser Gad, 45, who said: “The country is heading to a disaster. It will keep boiling until it explodes.”
Few voters displayed an air of celebration visible in previous post-Mubarak elections. The prevailing mood was one of deep anxiety tinged with bitterness that their “revolution” had stalled and deep suspicion that the political system was being manipulated.
“It’s a farce. I can’t vote for the one who killed my brother or the one who danced on his dead body,” said Ahmed Saad El Deen in Cairo, alluding to Shafiq’s alleged role in the killing of protesters during last year’s uprising and claims that Morsi’s Brotherhood rode the uprising to realise its own political goals.
Others said they were voting against a candidate as much as for one. Anti-Shafiq voters want to stop a figure they fear will perpetuate Mubarak’s regime; while anti-Morsi voters fear he will hand the country over to Brotherhood. Others said they picked the candidate who would be easiest to force out.