CAIRO: The Muslim Brotherhood’s National Alliance Supporting Legitimacy (NASL) issued a statement Monday on its official Facebook page stating that Egyptians who boycotted the election on its first day were exposing the “military coup.”
“Egyptians who boycotted today’s presidential election proved they are loyal to the blood of our martyrs as well as to the rights of detainees, the wounded and those who are affected by the military coup that ousted former president Mohamed Morsi in July 2013 and has plagued Egypt and Egyptians,” the statement said.
It continued, “Boycotting the presidency of bloodshed proved the people’s commitment to the achievements of the January 25 Revolution and insists on its retrieval. We will continue our boycott to leave their polling stations empty.”
Member of the Secretariat of the Presidential Election Committee Tariq Shebl said in a Monday statement that “there was a nationwide high turnout that caused overcrowding in front of the polling stations all over Egypt in the early hours of the first day of voting.”
The Justice Minister and head of the ministry’s operations room, Nayer Othman, said in a statement, “Today’s high voter turnout can enhance Egypt’s public image in the world’s eyes.”
But as polling stations closed their doors at 9 p.m. on Monday, initial indications of voter turnout were inconsistent. Some said voter turnout was low due to an abrupt rise in temperature, while the High Presidential Elections Committee (HPEC) had not yet issued any reports regarding statistics for the first day of voting.
At the same time, Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab announced on state-run television that Tuesday was being declared a national holiday for government employees “in order to boost voter turnout.”
He also announced a decision to extend voting Tuesday by one hour, with voting stations now closing at 10 p.m.
On April 27, the NASL issued a statement on its Facebook page calling for a boycott of the election, stating they “refuse to legitimize such a sham process as the the first democratically elected president Mohamed Morsi is still the country’s legitimate president who came into office according to the popular will of Egyptians and fair constitutional procedures.”
It added, “We will boycott this farce and we call on all Egyptians inside and outside the country to boycott it.”
On May 22, the NASL called on supporters of Morsi to escalate protests during the country’s two-day voting process, under the slogan, “Boycott the Presidency of Bloodshed.”
The alliance was formed after the military ouster of Morsi last July. The group rejects the authority of the interim government and has repeatedly called for Morsi’s re-instatement.
Since last November’s passage of a protest law, it is illegal to demonstrate in Egypt without first obtaining permission from security forces. Political demonstrations are often followed by clashes between Brotherhood supporters and security forces.
The election is taking place on Monday and Tuesday. Voters have only two choices, Nasserist politician Hamdeen Sabbahi and former Minister of Defense Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, who lead Morsi’s ouster.