Violence flares after Egypt election results (AP) Associated Press) By AYA BATRAWY CAIRO, EGYPT 05/28/12 7:52 pm ET)
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CAIRO – A mob set fire late Monday to the campaign headquarters of
one of the two Egyptian presidential politicians facing each other in
a runoff that will decide a new leader after last year´s popular
uprising, the first sign of unrest after the voting yielded divisive
The attack on Ahmed Shafiq´s office came just hours after the
country´s election commission announced that he would face the Muslim
Brotherhood´s candidate, Mohammed Morsi, in a June 16-17 runoff.
The second round pitting Shafiq, who was ousted President Hosni
Mubarak´s last prime minister, against Morsi, backed by the country´s
most powerful Islamist movement, is a nightmare scenario for the
thousands of Egyptians who took to the streets last year to demand
regime change, freedom and social equality.
Many of the so-called revolutionaries say they want neither a return
to the old regime nor religious rule.
"The choice can´t be between a religious state and an autocratic
state. Then we have done nothing," said Ahmed Bassiouni, 35, who was
sitting in Cairo´s downtown Tahrir Square in the midst of a growing
In an upscale neighborhood of Cairo, mobs of young men used bricks to
smash the windows of Shafiq´s headquarters, tossing out campaign
signs and tearing up his posters. Then they set fire to the building.
There were no reports of injuries. Police arrested eight people.
His campaign blamed supporters of leftist candidate Hamdeen Sabahi,
who came in third in the race, and backers of another losing
candidate, Khaled Ali, who was protesting the election results Monday
evening in Tahrir Square, the center of last year´s uprising.
Shafiq, also a former air force commander, was forced out of office
as prime minister by protesters shortly after Mubarak´s fall. He has
since presented himself as a figure who can restore calm to a country
wracked by 15 months of sometimes violent protests and deterioration
in internal security. He has expressed a zero-tolerance attitude
toward protests, reflecting his background in the military and in the
former regime, which put down protests with brutal force and jailed
Shortly after the protesters ransacked the campaign office, fire
trucks and police arrived as several hundred of Shafiq´s supporters
gathered outside the building, carrying his picture and chanting
slogans against the Muslim Brotherhood, which controls the parliament
and is now seeking the presidency.
"The Brotherhood are enemies of God!," chanted the crowd.
The Morsi-Shafiq runoff is a polarizing contest. It mirrors the
conflict between Mubarak, himself a career air force officer like
Shafiq, and the Islamists he jailed and tortured throughout his years
in power. But it sidelines the mostly young, secular activists who
led the popular uprising last year.
The commission reported Monday that Morsi won close to 5.8 million
votes, or almost 25 percent, while Shafiq received 5.5 million votes,
or nearly 24 percent. Sabahi, a socialist, finished third with 4.8
million votes, or about 21 percent. Fourth place went to moderate
Islamist Abdel-Moneim Abolfotoh. Turnout was about 50 percent.
In Tahrir Square, several thousands protesters chanted slogans
against the military rulers who took over after Mubarak´s ouster.
Protesters have clashed frequently with the military in street
protests that have killed more than 100 people, charging that the
military is perpetuating the repressive practices of the Mubarak
regime and bungling the transition to a new, elected government.
Protesters also chanted slogans against both Morsi and Shafiq, saying
they will not allow Egypt to be ruled by one party again nor allow
the former regime to regain power.
"Freedom! Freedom!" the crowds chanted, fists pumping in the air.
Some were demanding that a law approved by parliament banning former
high-level regime officials from running in the election be
implemented. That could apply to Shafiq. Egypt´s Constitutional Court
is set to look at the law just four days before the runoff.
Others charge that last week´s election, with 13 candidates, was
rigged, though observers said the vote was generally free.
In the Mediterranean port city of Alexandria, where Sabahi, a
favorite among many revolutionaries, won the most votes, protesters
tore down and burned large Shafiq and Morsi posters and protested
against military rule.
In the Nile Delta provinces of Dakahliya and Mansoura, protesters
took to the streets in similar protests. Security officials said
protesters in Mansoura tried to attack the campaign offices of Morsi
and Shafiq, but supporters of both candidates stopped the crowd.
The protests come just one day after Sabahi and Abolfotoh, whose
supporters backed the popular uprising, filed appeals to the election
commission to delay announcing the first round results until
allegations of voter fraud could be investigated. Their appeals were
Speaking to reporters Monday, Abolfotoh said "violations threatened
the integrity of the election."
"It is impossible under any circumstances for me to say with a
national conscience that these elections were clean," Abolfotoh said.
___ Additional reporting by Sarah El Deeb. (© 2012 The Associated
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