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Cablegate: Egypt: Widespread Obstruction and Violence At

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

071724Z Dec 05

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 CAIRO 009135

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

NSC STAFF FOR SINGH

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM KDEM EG EGPHUM
SUBJECT: EGYPT: WIDESPREAD OBSTRUCTION AND VIOLENCE AT
CLOSING DAY OF PARLIAMENTARY POLLS


Sensitive but Unclassified. Please protect accordingly.

-------
Summary
-------

1. (SBU) December 7 saw runoff races for seats in most
parliamentary constituencies in nine provinces of Egypt.
Although many polling places appeared to be quiet and
functioning normally, there were serious disruptions at many
others. Emboffs witnessed security force obstruction of
polling places at numerous voting stations. Contacts and
press reports confirmed that the phenomenon was widespread.
Thugs intended to intimidate opposition voters were also
spotted at many sites across the Delta. There were also
reports of journalists obstructed, harassed, and in some
cases beaten. The current possible death toll from election
related violence is 4-6. End summary.

-------------------------------
Security Forces Obstruct Voting
-------------------------------

2. (SBU) Emboffs visiting constituencies in Nile Delta
provinces witnessed 13 instances where security forces had
closed down polling stations, apparently to ensure the defeat
of popular Muslim Brotherhood candidates.

-- There was also security service closure of at least three
polling stations where the NDP candidate (a brother of the
Presidential Chief of Staff) was challenging Wafd Party
(i.e., secular, liberal) candidate Mahmoud Abaza.

-- Embassy contacts including domestic monitors and
journalists confirmed that closures were widespread in the
Delta.

-- In many cases, security forces used tear gas to disperse
crowds demanding admission polling stations.

-- Roads into and out of the Nile Delta city of Mansoura were
reportedly closed by security forces.

--------
Tear Gas
--------

3. (SBU) Emboffs witnessed two instances of apparently
unjustified use of tear gas:

-- At Abu Hammad village east of Zagazig, Sharqiyya, an angry
crowd gathered in front of a closed polling station. They
told poloff that the Egyptian police were the "Israelis" and
stated they were living "under occupation." Security forces
responded with tear gas.

-- In a second incident witnessed by poloff, police fired
tear gas shells, and a police officer fired live ammunition
over the heads of demonstrators. Witnesses subsequently told
poloff one citizen died of tear gas inhalation in the
incident.

-----
Thugs
-----

4. (SBU) There were also reports of thugs throwing stones and
bottles, and carrying clubs and machetes, in order to
discourage and intimidate prospective voters.

-- A journalist with AP advised poloff that she witnessed
thugs carrying machetes disembarking from a police truck near
a polling station in Sharqiya province.

-- An embassy contact witnessed thugs raining stones down on
prospective voters from rooftops in Nasiriya constituency,
Sharqiyya.

----------------------
Journalists Obstructed
----------------------

5. (SBU) We witnessed one instance, and received reports of
several others, in which journalists were obstructed,
harassed, and in at least one case beaten.

-- Emboffs witnessed an Egyptian TV crew ejected by police
from a polling station in Sharqiyya province.

-- Contacts also advised the Embassy that an Al-Jazeera crew
in Damietta province was harassed and their equipment
sabotaged.

-- An American journalist contact advised poloff that he was
struck by police and his camera was confiscated in Nasiriya
constituency, Sharqiya.

-- Police also attempted to confiscate an emboff's camera in
Kafr al-Sheikh province.

--------------
Other Violence
--------------

6. (SBU) Other instances of election-related violence came to
our attention.

-- UK Embassy contact advised poloff that protestors in
Sharqiya Province had blockaded and "set fire" to several
major roads.

-- An American journalist advised poloff that he had
witnessed vigilantes detaining alleged NDP bullies in a
building in Zagazig, Sharqiyya province.

-- Poloff saw MB supporters stoning police after police set
upon an MB candidate with batons.

-- Nasserist Party Chairman and Parliamentary candidate Dia
ed-Din Dawood was reportedly beaten by police in Damietta.

-- The current possible death toll from today's election
violence is 4-6.


RICCIARDONE

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