The run-offs of the second phase of parliamentary elections started Tuesday in North Sinai amid fierce competition between candidates from the province’s tribes and those of Upper Egyptian families living in Sinai.
Two candidates are competing over the Bear Al-Abd district seat and a total of four candidates are competing over the two seats of Al-Arish district. Candidates Hossam Refa’e and Rahmi Bakir are from the province’s tribes, while Adel Zanati and Hamada Sembel are from Sinai’s Upper Egyptian community.
Sanaa Gelbana, a resident of Al-Arish city and a member in the former National Democratic Party, said some polling stations were very crowded while others are empty. However, she expected the participation rates to increase through Tuesday evening and possibly Wednesday.
“There is a feud, because all Al-Arish tribes decided to unite to make sure the members of the tribes win the districts’ seats,” she said. “It is a matter of life or death that the tribes’ candidates should win the Al-Arish seats. According to their tradition, members of the tribes should vote for one of them.”
Two candidates have already secured their seats in the first round of the elections: Ibrahim Mohamed Abu Sheira won a seat of the Sheikh Zuweid district; and Hegazy Saeed secured the seat of Central Sinai.
On 24 November, one day after the end of the first round of the elections, seven people were killed in a double blast outside a hotel hosting election judges in North Sinai.
The residents of North Sinai, however, put the explosion behind them, according to Gelbana. “There is no fear. People and the security forces are in the streets,” she said.
The polling stations opened their doors at 9am on Tuesday for the voters to cast their ballots. Spokesperson of the Supreme Electoral Committee Omar Marwan said the elections in North Sinai are proceeding normally under tight security, despite the terrorist attack during the first round.
North Sinai governor Abdel Fattah Harhour said the electoral process is proceeding in an organised manner and without problems. “There is persistence from the judges, the police, and the army for the run-off to continue without any problems despite facing terrorist challenges,” he said in a TV interview on OnTV channel.
Mohamed Abdu Saleh, spokesperson of the elections operations room at the Judges Club, said they requested the armed forces to increase security at the polling stations for the judges in North Sinai. “The vote-counting process will take place in the sub-committees and will not be moved to the general committees,” he said.
The run-offs are taking place on Tuesday and Wednesday in 13 governorates, including North Sinai. The first round of elections was held on 22 and 23 November. The second phase of the elections covers 13 governorates, including Cairo, Suez, Kafr Al-Sheikh, Port Said, Ismailia, Daqahleya, Menufiya, Qaliubiya, Damietta, and North and South Sinai.