Violence flares after Egypt poll results
29 May 2012, 09:47
Cairo - A mob set fire late on 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 candidates.
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 16-17 June runoff.
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.
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 protest.
In an upscale neighbourhood 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.
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 on Monday evening in Tahrir
Square, the centre of last year's uprising.
Zero tolerance attitude
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.
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 opponents.
the protesters ransacked the campaign office, fire trucks and police
arrived as several hundreds of Shafiq's supporters gathered outside the
building, carrying his picture and chanting slogan against the Muslim
Brotherhood, which controls the parliament and is now seeking the
"The Brotherhood are enemies of God!," chanted the crowd.
Morsi-Shafiq runoff is a polarising 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 on Monday that Morsi
won close to 5.8 million votes, or almost 25%, while Shafiq received 5.5
million votes, or nearly 24%. Sabahi, a socialist, finished third with
4.8 million votes, or about 21%. Fourth place went to moderate Islamist
Abdel-Moneim Abolfotoh. Turnout was about 50%.
In Tahrir Square, several thousand 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