A woman voter register casts her ballot in a polling station in Giza, Egypt, on Oct. 18, 2015. The first day of the first phase of Egypt's parliamentary elections concluded here on Sunday with low turnout. (Xinhua/Cui Xinyu)
A woman voter register casts her ballot in a polling station in Giza, Egypt, on Oct. 18, 2015. The first day of the first phase of Egypt's parliamentary elections concluded here on Sunday with low turnout. (Xinhua/Cui Xinyu)

by Mahmoud Fouly

“I have been participating in elections for 55 years now, since I was 18. I never give up my duty to vote under any circumstances,” said an old lady in a wheelchair at the yard of a polling station in Egypt’s Giza province near the capital Cairo.

 A woman voter register casts her ballot in a polling station in Giza, Egypt, on Oct. 18, 2015. The first day of the first phase of Egypt's parliamentary elections concluded here on Sunday with low turnout. (Xinhua/Cui Xinyu)
A woman voter register casts her ballot in a polling station in Giza, Egypt, on Oct. 18, 2015. The first day of the first phase of Egypt’s parliamentary elections concluded here on Sunday with low turnout. (Xinhua/Cui Xinyu)
Mervat Mohamed Fawzi, 73, is one of some 27 million eligible voters in 14 provinces across the country that are scheduled to cast their votes on Sunday in the two-day first stage of the long-awaited parliamentary elections, a milestone in Egypt’s future roadmap for development and democracy.

However, the polling station, held at a preparatory school near Cairo University in Giza, looked quiet with few voters and more employees, observers and security men, indicating a low turnout in the beginning of the day.
Youth seemed to be absence from the voting scene dominated by women and old people in Giza and the other provinces in general.

“I call on the youth to come along and participate and elect those who can do something for the country,” the old lady told Xinhua, “we are the outgoing generation, but hope lies in the youth who would build the future for themselves and for their children.”

Judge Hossam, in charge of a constituency at Giza Preparatory School, explained that the voting process was going pretty well and smooth without any obstacles or violations.

“We have 2,500 eligible votes in this polling station. The turnout is as you can see. I expect the turnout to be higher later in the day,” he told Xinhua.

Spokesperson of the High Election Committee, Amr Marwan, told reporters that the turnout was “weak” during the early hours of the first voting day in the concerned 14 provinces, which include Giza, Alexandria and Upper Egypt’s provinces of Minya, Qena and Luxor.

Egypt’s legislative election, with some 55 million eligible voters total, is held in two stages covering the country’s 27 provinces. The first stage is held on Oct. 18 and 19 while the second will be on Nov. 22 and 23.

The most populous Arab state has been without a parliament for about three years, as the last one elected in late 2011, months after the ouster of long-time leader Hosni Mubarak, was dissolved in June 2012 by a court order.

President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi is holding the legislative authority until a new parliament is elected as the third and final phase of the country’s future roadmap including a new constitution and presidential elections.

“I came today to help complete the third stage of the future roadmap and the state institutions,” said Sayyid Kamel, an accountant in a construction company in his late 30’s, at a constituency in Mit Oqba district of Giza, expecting the ongoing polls to be free and fair and the people to be aware enough to elect the right representatives.

However, Abu Ahmed from an impoverished Boulak el-Dakrour neighborhood of Giza said he was not interested to participate because he does not trust the candidates and believes they run only for their own personal interests.

“They are fake. They only show up ahead of the elections to lure voters. Look at the unleveled streets and garbage! They really don’t care,” the aged man told Xinhua.

In Upper Egypt’s Qena province, the turnout seemed to vary from a polling station to another. Some constituencies looked vacant while others saw more voters as some candidates of big tribes could bring voters and fellow tribesmen in buses to the polling stations.

“Among the violations is that there were large buses and motorcades carrying voters for candidates from specific tribes or big families to get their collective votes,” Adel Ghazali, head of Upper Egypt Development Association and a local monitor, told Xinhua at a polling station in Shanhouriya Street in Qena.

Mostafa Gabr in nearby Luxor province was once an accountant at a large hotel, but he was laid off due to the tourism recession over the past four chaotic years that saw the ouster of two heads of states. Therefore, the man decided to boycott the polls.

“Most Luxor candidates are tourism businessmen who laid off workers and employees without thinking of their families and children. So, I decided to boycott and not help those people to reach the parliament,” the 33-year-old man told Xinhua.

As for Minya province, the general turnout was also low but better than in the early hours of the day despite the late opening of some polling stations due to threats sent to supervising judges on their cell phones, according to a judicial source.

“I came to participate as I feel that my vote is a national duty and that these elections will be done fairly and transparently,” Heba Ahmed, a 27-year-old employee from Bani Mazar district of Minya, told Xinhua.

On the other hand, in downtown Minya city itself, Adel Salah, a retired mechanical engineer, said that all citizens should participate and be aware of the country’s constitution and legislation, regarding the duty of participation in the polls “as sacred as prayers.” Enditem

Source: Xinhua

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