Egypt’s protesters set ex-premier’s HQ alight

The assailants, who are believed to have been supporters of an unsuccessful candidate, set fire to an annex of Ahmad Shafiq’s headquarters in Cairo hours after election officials announced on Monday evening that the holdover from Hosni Mubarak’s ousted regime will face the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohammed Mursi in the second-round election.
 
A police official said eight suspects were arrested near the headquarters, a villa in the middle class Dokki neighbourhood.
 
Some of the protesters returned to the iconic Tahrir Square and threw campaign leaflets taken from Shafiq’s headquarters on to the street. Many appeared to be supporters of an unsuccessful left-wing candidate and opposed both Shafiq and Mursi.
 
There were no immediate reports of injuries at the headquarters and firefighters said the blaze was quickly put under control.
 
“We were inside when they attacked us,” one member of Shafiq’s campaign staff said, without identifying himself. “They set fire to the garage that had general Shafiq’s campaign literature.”
 
‘President when I’m dead’
Earlier around 1 000 protesters had gathered in Tahrir Square to protest Shafiq’s presence on the runoff ballot.
 
“Shafiq will be president when I’m dead,” read one poster on a car parked in the square, the hub of the nationwide uprising that ousted president Hosni Mubarak in February 2011.
 
Announcing the results at an earlier press conference, election commission chief Faruq Sultan said no candidate had won a majority in the May 23 and 24 vote so the two with the highest votes, Mursi and Shafi, would enter a runoff.
 
The result has exposed a deep rift within the nation, which now will have to choose between a conservative Islamist and a symbol of the hated Mubarak regime.
 
A senior military official told Agence France-Presse that the army, which took charge after Mubarak’s ouster, had plans to deal with any violence ahead of the decisive election. Police officials said their forces were on alert.
 
Sultan said Mursi had won with 24.77% of the votes, slightly ahead of Shafiq with 23.66%.
 
Leftist candidate Hamdeen Sabbahi came third with 20.71%, ahead of moderate Islamist Abdel Moneim Abul Fotouh with 17.47%.
 
Former foreign minister Amr Mussa was fifth, trailing with 11.12%.
 
Rejected appeals
The commission put the official turnout in the vote – the first since the 2011 uprising that ousted Mubarak – at 46% of the 50-million Egyptians who were eligible to cast a ballot in the historic election.
 
Sultan said the commission had rejected seven appeals filed by candidates on May 26 and 27, citing electoral irregularities that “did not affect the outcome of the vote”.
 
Both Mursi and Shafiq, who represent polar opposites in the country’s fragmented politics after last year’s uprising, are now trying to court the support of the losing candidates and their voters.
 
The Brotherhood, which alienated many other political parties after its domination of parliamentary elections last winter, has warned that the nation would be in danger if Shafiq wins and has pledged to become more inclusive.
 
Two of the losing candidates, Mussa and Abul Fotouh, declined to endorse either of the frontrunners, however.
 
Ultra-conservative support
The Brotherhood has gained the support of the ultra-conservative Salafist Al-Nur party, which had supported Abul Fotouh in the first round.
 
But a pending legal case could have serious implications for Shafiq’s bid for the presidency.
 
Egypt’s Supreme Constitutional Court is expected to rule on June 11 in a key case examining the constitutionality of a law barring senior Mubarak-era officials from running for office, according to the state-owned Al-Akhbar.
 
On Saturday, Mursi called a meeting of candidates that was ignored by both Sabbahi and Abul Fotouh.
 
He promised at a news conference after the meeting that his party would be prepared to include aspects of other parties’ programmes in its platform, but fell short of reassuring critics who say the group wants to monopolise power.
 
Hijacked revolution
Shafiq also called on Saturday for broad support from former rivals, calling on his competitors by name to join him and promising there would be no return to the old regime.
 
Addressing the young people who spearheaded the 2011 revolt, he said: “Your revolution has been hijacked and I am committed to bringing [it] back.”
 
The contest presents a difficult choice for activists who led the revolt. For them, choosing Shafiq would be to admit the revolution had failed, but a vote for Mursi could threaten the very freedoms they fought for.
 
The presidential poll has followed a tumultuous military-led transition from autocratic rule marked by political upheaval and bloodshed, but which also witnessed free parliamentary elections, which saw Egypt’s two main Islamist parties clinch nearly three quarters of the 498 seats in the legislature.
 
The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, in power since Mubarak’s downfall, has pledged to restore Egypt to civilian rule by the end of June. – AFP
Advertisting

ANC and the state step back from taking action against...

Despite alleged abuses of power and people’s trust, the ANC appears to have abandoned plans to reform the controversial Ingonyama Trust Board

Mkhwebane moves to halt ‘grossly unfair’ impeachment process

Mkhwebane moves to halt ‘grossly unfair’ impeachment process

Chaos theory: How Jürgen Klopp has harnessed the unpredictable

The Liverpool manager has his side playing unstoppable football but it’s the attention to detail off the field that has bred the success

Miners speak out against Sibanye

Not a year into buying Lonmin, Sibanye is accused of mistreating the mineworkers who were injured eight years ago during the Marikana massacre. But the platinum giant says it is a miscommunication. Athandiwe Saba and Paul Botes visit Marikana to find out the truth
Advertising

Press Releases

Wellcome Trust award goes to UKZN mental health champion

Dr Andr? J van Rensburg, a senior researcher in UKZN's Centre for Rural Health, received the Wellcome Trust Discretionary Award.

MTN gears up to deliver improved customer service

On 28 January, the first batch of MTN contract customers will be migrated onto the new customer service platform.

Request for expression of interest on analysis of quality and outcome indicators for regional and district hospitals in Lesotho

Introduction The Ministry of Health of Lesotho with the support of the World Bank funded Nutrition and Health Systems Strengthening...

MiX Telematics enhances in-vehicle video camera solution

The company has launched the gold MiX Vision Bureau Service, which includes driver-coaching tools to ensure risky driver behaviour can be addressed proactively and efficiently.

Boosting safety for cargo and drivers

The use of a telematics system for fleet vehicles has proved to be an important tool in helping to drive down costs and improve efficiency, says MiX Telematics Africa.

Silencing the guns and firearms amnesty

Silencing the guns and firearms amnesty

Gender-based violence is an affront to our humanity

Gender-based violence is an affront to our humanity

UK-Africa investment summit 2020: Think Africa Invest SA

UK-Africa investment summit 2020: Think Africa Invest SA