Presidential spokesman Suleiman Awad told Reuters he believed the U.S. comments and media coverage in the United States and elsewhere were "unfair and unjustified".
"When you have more than 54,000 electoral units nationwide, (and) when you have two sad, unacceptable incidents taking place in the greater Cairo area, this is not something to be exaggerated in the way some circles did."Later on, Awad said:
[The] public prosecutor Maher Abdel Wahed was investigating victims' complaints. Asked if there would be arrests, he said: "This is something to be decided by the judiciary."________ Rather than condemn what happened, the government is blaming the international media for focusing on the violence rather than the polling stations. But then, again, it is difficult to do 'damage control' with the international press when women working for that press are being groped and kicked by thugs. This is a case where the government is blaming the messenger rather than the message its security forces were ordered to send.
"Mona Makram Ebeid, Secretary-General of El Ghad, had today resigned from the party for what she described as 'Personal reasons in addition to internal division.'
We realize that these are difficult times for anyone to be in opposition in Egypt. We respect Dr. Mona's decision and wish her well."Will this be an isolated incident or will the government make a move to exploit the "internal divisions" which could lead to the party being frozen like several of its predecessors. At last count, 7 out of 19 political parties, including the Liberals (Ahrar) and Labor, are frozen.
A witness to the Sa`d Zaghlul confrontation told Human Rights Watch that there were two separate groups totaling about 50 Kifaya demonstrators on the sidewalk, with a cordon of about a hundred riot police. On the street facing them was a larger group wearing NDP pins: At first the NDP crowd was just content to shout and threaten the Kifaya people that if they came out of the cordon they were in for a beating. The Kifaya group stood their ground, so the thugs changed tactics. The police would let a bunch of them cross into the Kifaya group, where they would single out one person to pull out to their side, all the while beating that person. They’d repeat that. It was almost choreographed, someone would say “attack” and then say “stop.” It was brutal but it was not chaotic.Also, this passage of this incident from the Journalist Syndicate:
It was about 2 or 2:30 p.m. I was at the top of the steps of the syndicate building, to the left of the entrance. The steps were full of Kifaya people and I was on the edge of the crowd. There was a cordon of security and riot police on the street. I saw a group of NDP people come down the streets—they had Mubarak posters—and there were at least 20 riot police walking with them, looking like they were protecting them. The police at the bottom of the steps opened the cordon to let the NDP gang through to the demonstrators. The next thing I knew a gang of about 20 or 30 NDP guys came at us from the left. One of them groped and manhandled me. I tried to push him away and he shouted, “I have a lady, let her through.” This seemed to be a signal for others to attack me. They pulled my hair and ripped my shirt, touching me all over. All over. I started screaming in English. “Hey, she’s screaming in English,” they shouted. They grabbed the strap on my bag and pulled me to the ground. Then the kicking started, and more groping. They were laughing and cheering. I crawled closer to the stairs. Another NDP guy came. He pulled me up and told them to calm down. I ran down the stairs. The police at the bottom let me through to get away.Lastly Joe Stork, the Washington Director of the MENA program at HRW, had this to say in response to Condi Rice's neutral response about Egypt's electoral violence: “This kind of mealy-mouthed talk from Washington must have been the best news President Mubarak had all day. When push came to shove, as it did literally in Cairo on Wednesday, the Bush administration’s commitment to reform looked bankrupt.” _______
First Lady Laura Bush on Monday praised Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's controversial plan for elections this year, even though pro-democratic opposition groups say they would be prevented from participating.
"I would say that President Mubarak has taken a very bold step," the first lady told reporters after touring the famous ancient pyramids here. "You know that each step is a small step, that you can't be quick."
Laura Bush's comments amounted to a timely endorsement of Mubarak's plan to hold the first multi-candidate elections later this year. A referendum is scheduled for Wednesday on the new law, which would require challengers to the president to be high-ranking members of officially sanctioned parties and effectively disqualify independent candidates. Opposition groups, led by the large Muslim Brotherhood, say the election plan effectively blocks a serious challenge to Mubarak, who has ruled Egypt for 23 years and is widely expected to run and win this year. "I think it's a very wise and bold step," Laura Bush told reporters, when asked about complaints from opposition groups.
The U.S. first lady, who spent much of the day with Mubarak's wife, Suzan, pointed to the United States as an example of how free and open democracies do not appear overnight. "He is taking the first step to open up the elections and I think that's very, very important," she said. Critics say President Bush and the first lady should apply more pressure on Mubarak to open up the elections and allow international monitors to police the vote. Under Mubarak's plan, government-dominated committees will conduct the election monitoring.
Earlier, Laura Bush made a cameo on "Alam Simsim," the Egyptian version of "Sesame Street." The show, which the U.S. Agency for International Development provided $8.4 million to help create, is an extraordinarily popular learning show for children under the age of 8, reaching 99 percent of them in urban areas and slightly less in rural communities. The first lady appeared with a furry peach character named Khokha. "Reading in English, Arabic or any other language does expand our minds," she told the audience. A few hours later, she toured a school for girls from disadvantaged families.__________ Any wagers on a democratic Egypt before 2011 (Egypt's next scheduled presidential elections)?
Government thugs, supported by police forces, have attacked 3 buses full of al-Ghad members on their way to a conference in Kafr Sakr, Sharkiya as part of a Door knocking campaign. 20 Ghad Members were injured and hospitalized. Buses were damaged and looted. This shows how the system tolerates opposition and its true intentions in having true democracy and free electionsA second text read:
Eyewitnesses said the thugs were paid 50LE each. Buses changed their courses in response to advanced warnings but traffic troopers alerted police, who instructed the thugs to change their position to intercept el-Ghad's buses. Attackers and police climbed the buses looking for Ayman Nor & attacked press photographers and damaged film and cameras. A police officer said in confidence they they were instructed to keep a close eye on the attack but to prevent fatalities.____________ If this keeps up, in addition to arrests of MB and Kifaya people, I am guessing the fall scheduled parliamentary elections could be bloody (outside Cairo, at least).