Egyptian Elections : Clashes between police and civilians continue

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Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif, accompanied by a high-level government team, headed to Mahalla Al Kobra Wednesday to end the violence that ensued following a nationwide strike on Sunday.

The delegation hopes to meet with workers in order to calm the current tensions in the northern Delta town.

The strike was quickly followed by clashes with police on Sunday, when workers at the government-owned textile company were ready to walk off their posts in protest over rising food prices and low wages.

Egyptian bloggers have reported that as many as four people, including a 15-year-old boy, have been killed in the town since Sunday.

Demonstrators destroyed and danced on a huge poster of President Hosni Mubarak on Monday, chanting obscenities at the longtime ruler of the Arab world’s most populous nation.

Mubarak, who turns 80 on 4 May, has been ruling Egypt since the assassination of Anwar El Sadat in 1981.

When the Prime Minister announced to workers that they would receive a bonus of 30 days pay and that his government promised to discuss their demands for improved health care and higher wages, workers cheered.

Afterwards, many of the employees remained skeptical of the government’s promises.

At least 150 activists have been arrested in the town since Sunday, and around 200 others have been injured in the fighting between demonstrators and police.

In a related development, independent election monitors were arrested during Tuesday’s local elections while numerous rights groups were barred from entering polling stations, local rights organisations said.

The ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) won around 70 percent of the seats before the voting began because many of its candidates were running unopposed, the official news agency, MENA, reported.

The most popular and most powerful opposition group, the Muslim Brotherhood, had promised to stand in the election, but weeks of arrests and detentions of over 800 of its members, including candidates, forced it to boycott the polls.

At least 7 monitors from two independent groups, the Egyptian Association for Supporting Democratic Development and the Egyptian Centre for Development and Democratic studies, were arrested in the governorates of Qaliubia, Asyuit, Sohaq and Kafr El Sheikh, the groups reported.

The country’s interior ministry said there was no information available on the cases on Wednesday morning. Panapress.

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