Notes from the field on the presidential elections

Dr. Omar Ashour emails in with his notes from the field:

Dear all,

Some thoughts form the field:

  1. The general feeling among youth movements and many pro-change voters is that Shafiq is coming for revenge. This feeling intensified after the arrest of April 6th members and what the police officers told them (“revolution is dead” “we are back to hang you on lampposts” etc…)
  2. The major irregularity in this election is playing with the voters database. It is held only by the presidential elections committee (who refuse to give it up). After many complaints in the first round, the committee removed 115k names (including the name of my dead grandma, who apparently voted in the first round!). This number is based on their review and there is no other way to re-check it. The names of the dead, expats, police and army personnel can be much higher on the database than 115,000.
  3. The empowerment of the military intel and police personnel to arrest civilians on charges as minor as traffic disruption, dissolving the parliament, preventing MPs from entering it, forthcoming constitutional declaration (dividing authority/mandate between the SCAF and the president) currently being written by a committee headed by PM Ganzouri) are quite alarming. It looks like an undeclared coup, lacking communiqué no. 1 and with legal framing from constitutional court judges.
  4. There is some gearing up for a confrontation among all stakeholders. Islamist MPs are preparing for march to the parliament on Tuesday. It may be met by force.
  5. There is a strong local media attack on the MB, including accusations of sniping protestors in Tahrir during revolution, rigging elections and committing fraud, getting help of foreign militias (Hamas’ EQB). If any sort of political violence happened, there will be a severe crackdown on the organization.
  6. The Administrative Court will be deciding on the legality of the MB on Tuesday. If it ordered dissolution, the MB will be banned and its member can be prosecuted. This again can lead to a serious confrontation.
  7. Finally, from my meetings, a few leftist and liberal MPs seem to be happy with the dissolution of the parliament, mainly thinking that they will do better next time when Islamists are banned or in jail!

Sad days for Egypt’s democratic transition.

Cheers,

Omar

Omar Ashour is a visiting fellow at the Brookings Doha Center and the director of Middle East Studies at the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies of the University of Exeter. You can follow him on Twitter at @DrOmarAshour.