Egypt’s Supreme Presidential Elections Commissions halted the announcement of the results of expatriates’ voting held in Saudi Arabia following a complaint by Islamist presidential candidate Abdul Muniem Abul Fotouh claiming some irregularities, Al Arabiya reported on Tuesday.
The campaign supporting Abul Fotouh on Monday requested that the commission send a judge to investigate alleged violations of the electoral process in Jeddah, Egypt’s al-Masry al-Youm reported.
The campaign claimed, in a statement, that it had detected certain irregularities. It said that the consulate in Jeddah closed its doors after voting and asked the supervisors to leave and start the vote count the next day.
It also claimed that certain political forces collected ID cards from voters and voted on their behalf and duplicate ballots were sent by mail, the Egyptian daily reported.
The campaign urged the commission to take legal action against the offenders to protect the integrity of the election from fraud.
Egypt’s ambassador in Riyadh, Mahmoud Ouf, on Monday announced that Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohammed Mursi was leading the presidential race in Saudi Arabia. He said Mursi received 49.5 per cent of expatriate votes in Riyadh, the country’s largest expatriate constituency, which has over 80,000 registered Egyptian voters, the state-run al-Ahram daily reported.
On Sunday, Egypt’s consul in Jeddah, Ali al-Esheiry, announced the Egyptian expatriate presidential poll results in Saudi Arabia’s second largest city, Jeddah. He said that Mursi received 26,934 votes, while Abul Fotouh recieved14,573 votes, al-Ahram reported.
According to the announcement by the Egyptian Embassy in Riyadh, Abul Fotouh came in second place after Mursi with 26 percent of the votes, while leftist candidate Hamdeen Sabbahi came in third place and former Arab League chief Amr Moussa came in the fourth place.
In a press conference on Thursday, Foreign Minister Mohammed Kamel Amr said he and other diplomats in the ministry are impartial toward all presidential candidates.
Egypt holds its first truly competitive leadership election in its history from Wednesday to pick the man to replace Hosni Mubarak, ousted last year in a popular uprising.
The first-round takes place on May 23 and 24, with about 50 million of Egypt’s 82 million population eligible to vote. According to the official schedule, counting will be completed on May 26, followed by a period when appeals will be heard. The first-round result will be formally announced on May 29, according to Reuters.
If any candidate achieves more than 50 percent of the votes in the first leg, he wins outright. That seems unlikely given the spread of candidates, so a run-off between the top two vote getters is expected to go ahead on June 16 and 17, with the result due on June 21.
SCAF urges Egyptians to accept vote results
The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) on Monday urged Egyptians to accept the results of the looming presidential election.
In a statement posted on its Facebook page, the SCAF stressed “the importance of accepting the results of the election which will reflect the choice of the free Egyptian people,” according to AFP.
Campaigning for the landmark poll ended on Sunday night, wrapping up an unprecedented exercise in democracy made possible by the 2011 revolt.
The main contenders are former foreign minister and Arab League chief Mussa; Ahmed Shafiq, the last premier to serve under Mubarak; the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mursi, independent Islamist Abul Fotouh and leftist opposition leader Sabbahi.
The SCAF is touting the poll as evidence that “the democratic process is taking its first step, we must all participate.”
The council, led by Mubarak’s longtime defence minister Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, said it was of “utmost importance” that Egyptians vote in the poll "”on which hopes are pinned that the country (will move) towards progress, prosperity and stability.”
Parliamentary speaker Saad al-Katatni declared that “Egypt is witnessing an unprecedented experience,” in a meeting with former US president Jimmy Carter in Cairo, the official MENA news agency reported.
Carter had arrived on Sunday with a delegation from his Carter Center to monitor the polls.
“The Egyptian people will accept the results of the election whatever they may be as long as the (polls) are fair and express the will of people,” said Katatni.
A tally announced by Egyptian missions in 33 countries put Mursi far ahead, with 106,252 votes, with Abul Fotouh following with 77,499.
Sabbahi came third with 44,727 votes, while Mussa was in fourth place, followed by Shafiq.
Hopefuls have been criss-crossing the country for weeks, promising a brighter future to a population led by a string of autocratic rulers for decades.
Interior Minister Mohammed Ibrahim said security forces would be deployed at polling stations around the country, particularly at the 351 centers where ballot papers will be taken for the count.
The election has pitted Islamists against secularists, and revolutionaries against members of the former regime, and for the first time in the country’s history, the outcome is unknown.
Sketchy opinion polls taken by a government-funded think-tank and the cabinet’s research division show Mursi trailing behind Abul Fotouh, Mussa and Shafiq.
The SCAF has pledged a fair election and has promised to hand power to civilian rule once a new leader is elected.
The power transfer will seal the end of a turbulent transition period marked by violent and sometimes deadly protests and a deteriorating economy.
(Additional writing by Abeer Tayel)