Eliminated candidates say Egyptian election fraudulent


THREE CANDIDATES eliminated in the first round of Egypt’s presidential election said yesterday that irregularities had invalidated the result.

Mounting a combined challenge to the credibility of the run-off in two weeks, Hamdeen Sabbahi, who came third, Abdel Moneim Abul Fattouh, fourth, and Khaled Ali, seventh, charged that the ballots of 1.5 million voters in last month’s poll had been voided.

They also said that votes had been cast on behalf of the dead in some areas, and as many as 900,000 troops and members of the security forces had cast ballots for former prime minister Ahmad Shafiq, who came second, although members of the forces are barred from voting.

Without the military votes, they say, he would not have reached the second round to rival the Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate, Mohamed Morsi, who topped the poll.

The three have the backing of half a dozen activist groupings and movements which had urged them to take a joint stand.

Mr Sabbahi called for the election to be cancelled and for a new poll to be held, but it is unlikely that any legal complaints will compel the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces – which assumed presidential powers when Hosni Mubarak was ousted as president – the judiciary or the government to alter the schedule.

The army council has vowed to hand power over to the new president at the end of this month.

The three also agreed that Mubarak and his aides should be retried due to what they claim is the lack of credibility of verdicts issued last Saturday.

They said Mr Shafiq should be disqualified under a new law in which figures from the former regime are banned from political life for a decade. And they called for serious consideration of a proposal made by protesters gathered in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, the epicentre of the uprising, for an unelected presidential council.

Such a council would include the three plus Mohamed ElBaradei, who pulled out of the contest before the campaign began.

The aim of this council would be to effect the transition from authoritarian to democratic rule and to avoid a run-off between Mr Shafiq and Mr Morsi, who are seen as representatives of the “old order” by liberal secularists.

They also argue that it is inappropriate to choose a new president at this time since the new constitution defining his powers has not yet been written.

The army council can be expected to ignore all these demands and carry on with the agenda it set several months ago, exacerbating the polarisation of the country between revolutionaries and Egyptians who want an end to political turmoil and economic decline even if figures from the “old order” continue to dominate.

On Saturday, tens of thousands of Egyptians took to the streets and squares in cities across the country to protest against both the election results and the life sentence handed down to Mubarak.

He was convicted of failing to use his high office to prevent the killing of 846 protesters during the uprising rather than ordering the security crackdown. The rally in Cairo’s Tahrir Square has turned into an open-ended sit in.