05/29/2012, 00.00
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Egypt, headquarters of candidate, ex-Mubarak ally, attacked

Shafiq Ahmed, Premier during regime, could be behind assault himself. The Electoral Commission confirms runoff between Mursi, President of the Justice and Freedom Party (Muslim Brotherhood) and Shafiq. Voting will take place June 15 to 16. Hundreds protest against election results.

Cairo (AsiaNews) - A group of unknown persons last night attacked the headquarters of Ahmed Shafiq, a former member of the regime and one of the two favorite candidates for the post of President with Mohammed Mursi (Muslim Brotherhood). Thugs set fire to several rooms of the building and stole some computers, but there were no injuries or major damage. The attack began just hours after the announcement of the participation of Shafiq in the June 15 run-off.

Supporters of the presidential candidate extinguished the fire and dispersed the mob. Police arrested eight people found near the candidate's headquarters, but the reasons and instigators of the assault remain unknown. However, many suspect that it was artfully concocted by Shafiq supporters. Former Premier under Mubarak, he is supported by the army and has based his campaign on the return of security and order to the country devastated by the riots, thus he is the only one who would benefit from a situation of instability.

Yesterday, the Egyptian Election Commission confirmed a runoff between Mohammed Mursi, President of the Justice and Freedom Party (Muslim Brotherhood) first with 24.6% of the votes, and Ahmed Shafiq, the second with 23% of the vote.

This result confirms the prediction announced by the Islamists immediately after the voting, with a polarization between supporters of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood and the former regime. Abdel Moneim Abul Fotouh, a moderate Islamist, and Amr Moussa, former president of the Arab League, initially favorites in polls, came fourth and sixth. Yesterday Moussa expressed concerns about the current situation. "A return to the old regime - he said - is as unacceptable as the entry of religion into politics."

The run-off will be held from 15 to 16 June. Today Salafis from the al-Nour party announced that they will support the Muslim Brotherhood. In the first round the Islamic radicals voted for Fotouh. Shafiq will try instead to attract the votes of moderate and secular Muslims, but his participation in the elections is still uncertain. Currently, the Constitutional Court is reviewing the criteria that exclude former members of the Mubarak regime from political life. The verdict will be announced on 11 June.

Analysts predict a low turnout to the ballot. In the first round only 46% of those eligible voted. The head to head between Mursi and Shafiq represents in part the failure of the Jasmine Revolution, which in 2011 forced the resignation of President Mubarak. The young activists of the Arab Spring are faced with a difficult choice: those who vote for the former Premier of Mubarak admit the final failure of the Tahrir Square uprisings, those who choose the Muslim Brotherhood could help destroy the ideals of freedom for which the young Egyptians fought.

Today hundreds of people took to the streets in Cairo and Alexandria to challenge the results of the vote, which they claim is the result of electoral fraud and does not represent the will of the Egyptian people. According to some activists, such events are the last chance to save the ideals of the Jasmine Revolution.


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