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PV Vivekanand: A new take on Egypt’s revolt
June 02, 2012
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Here is an average expatriate Egyptian’s take on the presidential elections in his country:

Mohammed Mursi, the Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate, did not win an outright majority in the May 23-24 voting only because the votes were split among the 13 candidates.

The Brotherhood vote was split between Mursi and Abdul Moneim Abol Fotouh, a former figure in the group who quit in protest against the leadership’s initial decision not to field any presidential candidate. Mursi secured 25 cent of the vote while 17 per cent went to Abol Fotouh.

“There is no doubt that Mursi will win an outright majority in the June 16-17 runoff with Ahmed Shafiq if the elections are free and fair,” says an Egyptian expatriate living in the UAE who agreed to be identified only as Mahroos.

Shafiq, who surprisingly secured the second place with 24 per cent and qualified to the run-off with Mursi, “bought” most of his votes with funds supplied by Suzanne Mubarak, according to Mahroos.

Suzanne is the wife of Hosni Mubarak, who was forced to resign as president in February last year in the face of a popular revolt. The former president is in a prison hospital awaiting trial on charges of ordering his forces to open fire on protesters in Cairo’s Tahrir Square during the revolt.

“Shafiq is Mubarak’s and the military’s man,” says the expatriate, noting that the presidential candidate served for 19 days as Mubarak’s last prime minister and he has a prominent military background as an air force commander. The military took over governing the country when Mubarak stepped down but is now accused of monopolising power.

Suzanne Mubarak has “billions and billions” in Egyptian and foreign currencies at her disposal to buy votes, according to Mahroos.

Where did the money come from?

“From the regime’s coffers of course,” answers Mahroos, who said he voted at the Egyptian consulate in Dubai.

“For several days during and after the revolt, helicopters were busy flying boxes stuffed with diamonds, gold and money from Cairo’s presidential palace to Mubarak’s villa in Sharm Al Sheikh,” says the expatriate. “Suzanne is now in control of the funds and she is spending it to save her husband and family.”

With so much of monitoring going on, how did Shafiq’s men manage to “buy” votes?

“It is easy,” says Mahroos. Shafiq and his people used the so-called local village councils dominated by Mubarak’s National Democratic Party (NDP) to organise the “vote-buying,” he says.

Shafiq and his people supplied cash to the NDP activists, who in turn gave voters 200 Egyptian pounds each for every vote, he explains.

Wait a moment, how could the NDP activists distinguish between those who voted for Shafiq and those who did not?

“The NDP activists handed over one half of a 200-pound note to the voter ahead of the vote and kept the other half with themselves. They gave out the half only after the voter had cast his or her vote.”

Again, how could the activists know whether the vote went to Shafiq?

“You don’t know the Egyptian system, do you?” comes the answer. “When you receive the ballot paper in the voting hall, you can easily opt not to go behind the partition to vote by telling the election official that you are illiterate. You can then request the official to cast your vote for Shafiq, and this will be immediately noted by Shafiq’s agents inside the hall. And they will signal to their people waiting outside that you have done your job. You can go outside and collect the other half of the 200-pound note.”

How could the other half be matched with the half that you have?

“This is all done very systematically,” says the man. “There is no loophole. They will give you the other half of the note based on its serial number. They even keep a register. After all, the NDP has decades of experience in fixing the vote.”

Shafiq got about 5.5 million votes. At 200 pounds a piece, it would have cost about 1.1 billion pounds, no?

“What is one billion or two billion or even 10 billion pounds when it comes to the presidency of a country like Egypt?” answers Mahroos.

Who do you think attacked Shafiq’s election campaign headquarters on Monday night?

“Who else but his own people?” counters Mahroos. “He wants to win public sympathy ahead of the runoff, particularly from those who don’t belong to any political party.”

Indeed, Suzanne Mubarak might have billions and she might be supplying the funds, but how could a Shafiq victory “save” her husband and sons?

“Don’t you see? If Shafiq becomes president, one of the first things he would do is to announce an amnesty for Hosni Mubarak and all his cronies now facing charges or have been convicted. That will also be the last thing he would do before fleeing the country along with the Mubaraks and others.”

“He has no intention to continue as president because he knows he will be doomed even with the support of the military,” Mahroos adds. “The sole purpose of his running for presidency is to save Mubarak and his family and all other cronies of the former regime from Egyptian justice. Once that is done, he will simply fly out.”

Well, well, well, great for Mubarak and family and his people if Shafiq wins, isn’t it?

“We will make sure he doesn’t win,” answers the expatriate.

Who are ‘we’?

“You have not been listening to me all this while,” he asserts, shaking his head and rubbing his small beard. “We are the Muslim Brotherhood.”

Well, the Brotherhood has emerged as the dominant party in post-Mubarak Egypt, but it has not been able to assume executive power. No?

“We are moving carefully ahead and it will take time for us to have real power,” answers the man.

What if the military refuses to hand over power?

“Well, it will mean a second revolution,” says the man. “The Brotherhood is capable of bringing millions of Egyptians to the streets. We will simply sit down in Tahrir Square and other key places in the country and will not do any work. The whole country will be paralysed.”

What if the military resorts to violence to break up the sit-ins?

“They can try, but they will not be able to deal with a million-strong sit-in. A few days of national paralysis, and they will be brought to their knees,” says Mahroos with confidence.

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