CAIRO: Dozens of opposition activists and a number of MPs gathered Thursday outside the People’s Assembly headquarters in downtown Cairo to protest against the alleged forgery of the Shoura Council mid-term election results.
The protesters were mainly members of the National Association for Change and the Muslim Brotherhood movement.
The protest was previously scheduled outside the Shoura Council premises in Kasr El-Aini street as the new council members were taking the oath during the first session. The incumbent Safwat El-Sherif was reelected as Council Speaker for another three-year team.
“However, police forces did not allow us to stand outside the Shoura Council building, which made us change our meeting point to the People’s Assembly in the nearby Maglis El-Sha’b Street,” activist George Ishaq, former coordinator of the Kefaya Movement for Change, told Daily News Egypt.
Activist Karima El-Hefnawy was reportedly detained and forced to stay inside a police truck with two other female activists to stop them from joining the protest.
“The security forces wanted to stop the protest before it began,” El- Hefnawy explained.
“After taking our mobile phones and holding us for about 30 minutes, a police general released us, saying the protest could not be held,” she added.
However, El-Hefnawy and another 20 activists managed to bypass the police, finding their way to the protest.
But journalist and activist Mohamed Abdel-Qodous was reportedly forced to leave the area.
Activist Ahmed Abu Doma was detained before the protest began. No updates were available about him by press time.
Abu Doma was recently handed down a six-month prison sentence for allegedly assaulting a police officer during a protest.
The police, meanwhile, prevented reporters from reaching the gathering, ordering them to back off.
Citizens were not allowed to walk in the street of the PA during the protest, either.
Over 20 trucks filled with riot police were lines the streets leading to the Shoura Council and PA buildings in the Lazoughli neighborhood downtown.
Furthermore, dozens of plain-clothed policemen were stationed in streets surrounding the area; some of them sat inside civilian cars to observe.
The ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) won 80 of 88 seats in the Shoura Council’s mid-term elections held earlier this month.
The other eight seats went to independent candidates and four opposition parties.
The Muslim Brotherhood did not win any seats in this round of elections.
“The Shoura Council as a legislative body has lost its credibility [after the recent election],” MP Mohamed El-Beltagy, a Brotherhood member, told Daily News Egypt following the protest.
Several violations were reported during the electoral process. Brotherhood members accused the government of being biased to the ruling NDP.
The Shoura Council (Upper House of Parliament) has 264 members; two thirds are elected by direct secret ballot, half of them at least, must be workers and farmers. The remaining third are appointed by the president.
The term of membership is six years and a mid-term election is held every three years. The Speaker of the Shoura Council doubles as the Chairman of the Supreme Press Council.
The council is a consultative body on several issues including, but not limited to, proposed constitutional amendments, draft laws, general plans for socio-economic development and all treaties affecting Egypt’s territorial integrity or sovereignty.
The People’s Assembly (Lower-House of Parliament) elections are due to be held in October this year and the presidential election next year.