Nine months after the popular uprising in Egypt that pushed Mubarak out, protesters are back in the streets. This time, they are demanding that military ruler Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi and his council of generals step down immediately, accused of bungling the transition. Nine days of clashes that have left more than 40 dead have heightened fears of violence at polling stations..
Egyptians prepare to vote on Monday, the first election since Mubarak was ousted, many had hoped for a democratic age after decades of dictatorship. Now there is only confusion, and the people are sharply polarized…
More critically, the political crisis has cast doubt on the legitimacy of the vote, which is expected to be dominated by Islamic parties. That could render the parliament that emerges irrelevant.
“We have no idea who we are going to vote for,” said Mustafa Attiya Ali, a 50-year-old barber in Cairo. “We don’t know any of the candidates, but I and my friends will get together tonight and decide who to vote for.”
Egypt has not had a fair or clean election in recent memory. The last parliamentary vote held under Mubarak was in November and December a year ago and it was so fraudulent, the ruling party won all but a handful of seats.
Egypt’s military rulers decided to forge ahead with the elections despite the new wave of unrest…
Foreign groups sent missions to witness the vote, but officially the military banned international election observers.
“I have serious concerns about the safety of the ballot boxes staying overnight uncounted at the polling centers,” said Hassan Issa, an oil engineer from Alexandria. “They will definitely be rigged,” he predicted.
“I am not going to vote tomorrow because everyone who is running is a thief and only cares for the seat they want to sit in,” said Abu Ahmed, a 36-year-old fruit vendor in the Mediterranean port city of Alexandria. “Many times they’ve tried to buy my vote with a bag of food or money. They know that I’m poor and they want to take advantage of me. I don’t read or write, but I know that Tantawi needs to go,” he said.
Tantawi responded to the calls for him to leave by digging in Sunday, refusing to surrender power and issuing stern threats of “extremely grave” consequences if the unrest does not end.
The protests have left at least 43 dead and more than 2,000 wounded, according to the Health Ministry, most of them in Cairo.