Despite militant activity and heightened counter-insurgency measures, North Sinai residents continued to cast their ballots in the second day of parliamentary elections amid strict security measures.
The elections took place on Sunday and Monday in 13 governorates, including North Sinai. The first phase of elections was held in 14 governorates in October.
The Raqeb Ya Masry (Egyptian, Observe) campaign, which aims to observe and document the elections, reported that voters in North Sinai were keen to participate in elections.
According to local media, the first day of elections in North Sinai saw a participation rate of 14.5%, with more than 34,000 voters casting their ballots.
There are over 234,000 eligible voters in the governorate, with a total of 49 polling stations and 104 sub-committees. Candidates are running for five individual seats, and one list-system seat, distributed over four electoral districts, Al-Arish, Sheikh Zuweid and Rafah, Bear El-Abd and Central Sinai.
Sheikh Khaled Arafat, a member of the Nasserist Al-Karama Party in North Sinai, told Daily News Egypt that voter participation rates have improved on Monday. “People are hoping that by voting they would change their reality,” said Arafat.
“The most important thing is that the rest of Egyptians understand the sufferings Sinai residents have been facing for the past three years,” he added.
Although the government shortened curfew hours during the elections to begin at 11 pm instead of 7 pm and end at 6 am, participation rates remained low in the Rafah and Sheikh Zuweid districts. “Bear Al-Abd district, which is far from the operations area, recorded the highest turnout in the governorate,” added Arafat.
North Sinai governor Abdel Fattah Harhour said participation rates in the elections have exceeded expectations. “The residents of the governorate are aware of the importance of the elections, and the tight security procedures have helped in increasing participation rates,” Harhour said in a televised interview on CBC channel.
Police and army forces were deployed all over the governorate to secure the electoral process. “Elections are being held in a proper manner under tight security and high levels of participation from North Sinai residents,” said General Ali Abu Zeid, Head of North Sinai Security Directorate, in an interview on ONTV channel.
Abu Zeid declared that no violations were recorded in the first day of elections, hoping for the situation to remain as it is in the second day.
Journalists Against Torture, however, reported that security forces and judges supervising the elections prevented a number of journalists from covering the electoral process in certain polling stations on Sunday.