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Cablegate: Egypt Parliamentary Elections - Nov 9 Round -

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

091614Z Nov 05





E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: A. CAIRO 8546

B. CAIRO 8392
C. CAIRO 8274
D. CAIRO 8112

1. (SBU) Summary: Voter turnout in the first round of
Egypt's parliamentary elections picked up as the afternoon
began. Most polling stations are the scene of active
campaigning by the National Democratic Party (NDP), Muslim
Brotherhood (MB) and other independent candidates. Reports
from Embassy observers indicate that voting is taking place
peacefully in most areas. However there have also been
instances of vote-buying, issuance of voter cards on the
street, campaign materials inside polling stations and at
least one case of physical abuse against monitors. End

Ayman Nour's District

2. (SBU) In Bab Al Sha,ariyya, the district of opposition
candidate and former presidential candidate Ayman Nour,
poloff visited two large polling stations where the NDP
appeared to have the largest share of public support.
Emotions were running high among voters and poll workers with
some pushing and shoving and disagreements over access to the
polling stations. There were allegations that Nour,s Ghad
Party is buying votes. Some voters reported to poloff that
they were offered money by the Ghad Party but refused to
accept it. For its part, the Ghad Party has alleged that the
GOE has engineered a heavy handed campaign to intimidate
Ayman Nour's supporters in the district.

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Intimidation in Giza

3. (SBU) In the Giza countryside, another poloff and
election monitors were welcomed politely by police and poll
workers in front of polling stations in Al Saff and Tebbeen.
Poloff observed an upbeat atmosphere and an independent MB
campaign worker reported cooperation from the government.
Poloff saw transparent boxes and ink being used. As in the
presidential election, however, the voter lists continue to
pose problems, with many voters turned away when their names
could not be found on the lists.

4. (SBU) The atmosphere was very different when poloff and
the monitors arrived at a third polling station in Giza.
There poloff witnessed monitors being roughed up by thugs at
the polling station entrance. One monitor reported having
had his digital camera taken away and all of the pictures in
it deleted and his poll monitor authorization letter torn up.
Poloff also heard reports that journalists were being turned
away and/or roughed up at this same polling station.

High Profile for the Muslim Brotherhood

5. (SBU) In a town between Giza's urban area and the
countryside, poloff observed frantic, fierce campaigning,
with stiff competition between two independent candidates one
from the MB, with no evidence of NDP activity. Nasr City,
northeast of Cairo, saw active campaigning by independents
including male and female MB members. Monitors there had
been questioned by security officials as they entered a Nasr
City polling station but were admitted. Journalists,
including three TV cameras, were observed inside and outside
the polling station. This polling station was housed inside a
police station, a violation of stated policy. In nearby
Heliopolis, there was a vocal MB presence but not many
voters. A group of 100 MB supporters had managed to rally
inside a polling station, chanting, "Islam is the solution,
the Koran is the basis."

Upper Egypt

6. (SBU) In Minya, four hours south of Cairo, polling
stations were quieter. NDP and MB posters were ubiquitous,
but few party campaign workers were seen near the polls. In
those instances where campaign workers were distributing
flyers, MB workers were the most prominent. Turnout remained
light. Domestic monitors who spoke with emboff generally
reported few difficulties. One complained that one poll
station manager was admitting only NDP voters, but that
situation appeared exceptional. Security presence was light.

Getting out the Worker Vote for less than $10

7. (SBU) In one district near Cairo, emboff visited a
polling station with 2,200 registered voters, two-thirds of
whom work at nearby factories. Two of these factories are
owned by candidates, one of whom is with the NDP and the
other an independent formerly with the NDP. That station was
surrounded by campaign workers, again with MB representatives
dominant. Police were cooperative. Buses delivered workers
from the factories to the polls. MB campaigners at the
station reported that NDP campaign materials were inside the
polling station but otherwise had no complaints.

8. (SBU) Despite the general satisfaction expressed by the
MB workers at this station, emboff did witness what appeared
to be NDP vote-buying: a woman came out of the polling
station, approached an NDP worker, and asked for the money
she had been promised. The NDP worker escorted the worker
away, but emboff was told separately that votes are going for
50 Egyptian pounds (approximately 9.00 USD).

Food Boxes in Maadi

9. (SBU) In Maadi, a middle to upper class suburb of Cairo,
and in the vicinity of a nearby cement factory, there was
active campaigning by NDP and MB workers inside and outside
of the polling stations. Trucks and loudspeakers were
present and large buses and mini-buses transporting voters,
some of them from the government, were parked a few streets
from the polling station. Few inked fingers were observed.
There were lots of food boxes on the ground and NDP, MB and
independent candidates were observed distributing candy and
flowers to voters. Emboff observed representatives from both
the NDP and the MB issuing pink voter cards to anyone who
presented a national ID card, allowing them to vote in
violation of the voter registration law.

"Battle of the Bands" in the Delta

10. (SBU) In Menoufiyya governorate in the Nile delta
region, poloff reported strong MB organization, including
banners, loudspeakers and campaign workers wearing vests and
headbands decorated with pictures of candidates. The
environment was like a "battle of the bands" with
loudspeakers from the various parties competing for the
voters' ears. The independent candidates are also using
loudspeakers for voter education, explaining the mechanics of
voting for an "independent" versus a candidate from a
particular party. But by 1200 noon, some monitors still had
not received the entry cards required for admission to
polling stations. In addition, there were reports that many
polling stations did not open at all until late morning.


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