News / Middle East

Egyptians Vote After Night of Protests

Egyptians gather to protest ongoing military rule in Tahrir Square in Cairo, Friday, June 15, 2012.
Egyptians gather to protest ongoing military rule in Tahrir Square in Cairo, Friday, June 15, 2012.
Elizabeth Arrott
Egyptians go to the polls Saturday and Sunday in a polarizing presidential race already fraught by controversial court decisions.  Whoever wins the runoff will preside over a country with neither a constitution defining his powers, nor an effective legislative branch to act as a check.

Lines formed outside polling stations Saturday amid tight security.

Tensions were high on the eve of the presidential vote, with anger directed squarely at the nation's ruling military council.

Demonstrators have taken to the streets decrying Thursday's constitutional court decision to let Egypt's last prime minister, former Air Force commander Ahmed Shafiq, stay in the race, despite a law banning ex-officials from taking part.

Demonstrator Iman Ibrahim says she would sacrifice her life before seeing a return to politics of the past.   She says the nation will not return to the “bottle” the interim military rulers want to imprison them in.  “Forget it, military council” she says, “Egyptians have woken up.”  

Ibrahim says she will vote for Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood, not that she likes him or his organization, but because at least, she believes, he offers some alternative.

Others look at the choice and also see limitations. But like Mona Makram Ebeid, a lecturer at the American University in Cairo, they view Shafiq as a safeguard of civil society against Islamist inroads.

"I think that Shafiq will be an excellent statesman," she said. "He will not be the man of the regime the people think of. ... He is looking forward; he is looking to the future. He is giving hope to the young people no matter how suspicious they are of him."

But a parallel decision by the court Thursday to disqualify one-third of parliamentary seats has also raised concerns.  The court says this means the dissolution of the Islamist-led legislative body.  Lawmakers are contesting the ruling, which also disrupts the writing of a new constitution.

American University in Cairo professor Said Sadek believes this has long been the plan of the military council, now apparently in charge of drafting the next basic law.

“If it's Shafiq, [who wins] then they can play with the constitution and will give a lot of power to the president," he said. "If it's Morsi, they will not give him the same prerogative.  They will make him a very weak president. He will not be able to influence the institutions, the well-established institutions and the ruling elites in all the Mubarak system who had not been touched yet."

The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces has promised to hand over control to a civilian government by the end of the month. But suspicions it will continue to play a major role either on stage or behind-the-scenes have many worried.

Protester and labor union member Adel Qandil says he feels like he is watching the last act of a play, written by the military when it took over from the old government last year.  He says the military is “laughing at all of us,” at turns portraying the protesters in a bad light, then the Muslim Brotherhood, “pitting the whole nation against one another.”

Qandil vows to begin a protest vigil outside the presidential palace if Shafiq wins the election.

But even those critical of the military council voice doubts that the revolutionary spirit of early last year can be revived.

"The military has played an incredibly destructive role in terms of the potential for Egypt's transition and I am not sure to what extent that early momentum of the first month can be recaptured - because we could see Egypt restabilizing in a new kind of authoritarianism that is slightly more open, but still the fundamental structure will remain in place," said Heba Morayef, a researcher at Human Rights Watch in Cairo.

Political observers are concerned that even if Shafiq wins the race fairly, suspicions raised by this week's events would shadow his presidency and cause additional unrest.  

But as one activist commented online in the wake of the court rulings, “We'd be outraged if we weren't so exhausted.”  After 16 months of instability, the weariness is shared by many.

You May Like

Ebola Death Toll Nears 5,000 as Virus Advances

West Africa bears heaviest burden; Mali toddler’s death raises new fears More

Jordan’s Battle With Islamic State Militants Carries Domestic Risks

There are Western concerns Islamic State militants soon may unleash offensive in kingdom that could create upheaval - though nation has solid intel, grip on banking system More

Asian-Americans Assume Office in Record Numbers

Steadily deepening engagement in local politics pays off for politicians like Chinese-American Judy Chu More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Steven from: Brooklyn
June 15, 2012 7:45 PM
All I can say is, thank God I'm an American!


by: Harry Kuheim from: USA
June 15, 2012 6:20 PM
Not to worry Folks...after the Islamofascists topple Egypt, Pakistan,Syria, Indonesia,the rest of Africa, and Afghanistan, etc. Then cause "rivers of Jewish blood to flow", and establish Sharia Law World Wide the 12th Imam will rule the World where Islam is the only Religion and there is only one God...sounds peachy right?


by: Anonymous
June 15, 2012 6:11 PM
It will take years before Egypt is back to some sense of normalcy. The right to vote democratic is what the people want, yet many are not acting democratic themselves. I do not think that normalcy will be back in our lifetime.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid