Attack on candidate’s HQ as vote polarises Egypt

CAIRO, May 29 (Reuters) – An arson attack on the headquarters of one of the two candidates in Egypt’s presidential election has marred campaigning for the second round in a vote that has polarised the nation with the choice of an Islamist or Hosni Mubarak’s last prime minister.


Protesters set fire to storage rooms and smashed computers late on Monday at the campaign headquarters of Ahmed Shafiq, a 70-year-old former air force chief and Mubarak official, who was confirmed as a run-off candidate after the first round vote.

His rival is Mohamed Mursi, a senior member of the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s main Islamist group which controls the biggest bloc in parliament after an earlier election. The deciding presidential vote is on June 16 and 17.

Mursi, 60, drew support from a disciplined group of backers of the Brotherhood, banned under Mubarak, and Shafiq attracted Egyptians who want a strongman to restore law, order and prosperity after 15 months of turmoil since Mubarak’s ouster.

Neither won more than a quarter of votes cast in the first round, leaving an agonising choice for a sizeable portion of the electorate who backed more centrist candidates and do not want a conservative Islamist or an ex-military officer at the helm.

Thousands of Egyptians took to the streets on Monday night in protest after the results of the first round were confirmed by the election committee. Some held up posters of Mursi with a cross over his face. But most were chanting against Shafiq.

Dozens then marched from the protests around Tahrir Square, where hundreds of thousands played out a drama that toppled Mubarak, to Shafiq’s headquarters in the upscale Cairo district of Dokki.

“They seemed to know what they were after and they went directly to the storage rooms and set them on fire using petrol bombs,” said Ahmed Abdel Ghani, 30, a member of Shafiq’s campaign, surveying a scene of unusable, charred campaign flyers and leaflets scattered on the ground.

The main villa escaped the flames but protesters smashed laptops and computers inside, he said. Daubed on the wall outside the villa were the words: “No to Shafiq, no to feloul,” an Arabic word referring to “remnants” of Mubarak’s era.

Shafiq has made no secret of his admiration for Mubarak, describing him as a role model after his own father. Protesters threw stones and shoes at him when he voted in Cairo last week.

“We condemn the attack but we still don’t know who is behind it and will wait for investigations. But we are continuing our work and path and hopefully all will end well,” said one official in the campaign, who asked not to be named.

(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today)

Szóljon hozzá ehhez a cikkhez