Calls to boycott get louder on eve of Egypt vote

Fri Jun 15, 2012 6:22am EDT
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By Shaimaa Fayed

CAIRO (Reuters) - Ahmed Ali, a 44-year-old janitor, plans to mark a red "X" across the names of both candidates in Egypt's presidential run-off when he goes to vote this week.

He is part of a broader political trend planning either to boycott the election or spoil ballots to protest against a first-round result that produced a run-off between ousted President Hosni Mubarak's last prime minister and a Muslim Brotherhood candidate. Together, the pair obtained less than half the votes cast.

The movement's strength suggests the political turmoil since Mubarak was toppled 16 months ago may continue in post-election Egypt, whether the winner is former air force commander Ahmed Shafik or the Brotherhood's Mohamed Morsy.

"I am angry," said Ali. "Many Egyptians died in the uprising last year and in the end we are being forced to choose between the old corrupt regime we overthrew and a movement that has its own Islamist agenda. I will spoil my ballot."

That anger has only grown after a ruling on Thursday by the Supreme Constitutional Court to let Shafik stay in the race. The Islamist-led parliament had passed a law that would have blocked election bids by top Mubarak-era officials. That law was overturned.

"The way this transition has been managed all along by (the ruling military council) shows no true intention of a power handover to a truly elected civilian government," said Mohsen Sehrawy, 37, a marketing consultant, after the court decided to allow Shafik's candidacy but also ruled to dissolve the Islamist-led parliament.

"This has strengthened my resolve to void my vote," he said.

The constitutional court said the rules that governed the parliamentary vote that ended earlier this year were flawed, so the assembly should be dissolved and new elections held.   Continued...

Protesters hold up a defaced poster of presidential candidate Ahmed Shafik, ousted leader Hosni Mubarak's last prime minister, at Tahrir square in Cairo June 14, 2012. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany