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Anger in Egypt: riots in Cairo over election results

The HQ of run-off election candidate – and former PM – Ahmad Shafiq was set on fire by angry protesters.

An Egyptian supporter walks on scattered electoral flyers with pictures of presidential runoff candidate Ahmed Shafiq in front of his ransacked campaign headquarters.
An Egyptian supporter walks on scattered electoral flyers with pictures of presidential runoff candidate Ahmed Shafiq in front of his ransacked campaign headquarters.
Image: Nasser Nasser/AP/Press Association Images

TAHRIR SQUARE WAS once more the site of angry protests last night as Egyptians showed their frustration over former prime minister Ahmed Shafiq’s second place in first round presidential elections.

A list of 13 candidates was whittled down to two after last week’s vote but Egypt’s road to democracy looks like it will continue to be a rocky one.

Shafiq, who is seen by many as a representative of the Hosni Mubarak regime, was named as one of the top two candidates, meaning he will participate in the run-off election later this month. He will be competing against the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohammed Morsin who placed first but failed to win an overall majority.

Pitting a man from the old regime against a strong religious order is a nightmare scenario for many civilians who protested for change and democracy last January and February. The polarising nature of the contest also leaves behind the mostly secular, pro-democracy activists who were mainly responsible for launching the Arab Spring movement in 2011.

“The choice can’t be between a religious state and an autocratic state. Then we have done nothing,” said Ahmed Bassioun, a 35-year-old who was sitting in Cairo’s downtown Tahrir Square in the midst of the growing protest. That demonstration eventually turned violence, with gangs of young people throwing bricks at the windows of Shafiq’s headquarters. Eight people were arrested after the building was set on fire. No injuries were reported.

Al Jazeera spoke to some of the protesters about why they had once more taken to the streets:

None of the 13 candidates in the historic election won an outright majority so the run-off vote will be held over 16 and 17 June. Morsi gained 24.7 per cent of votes, while Shafiq won 23.6 per cent. In third and fourth place were socialist Hamdeen Sabbahi and moderate Islamist Abdel-Moneim Abolfotoh with just over 20 per cent and 14 per cent respectively. Writing in the New York Times, David Kirkpatrick explained that the majority of voters sought a middle road between Morsi and Shafiq but lost out because their votes were divided up between other candidates.

Turnout was at 46 per cent and seven appeals about the results have been rejected by the electoral commission.

-Additional reporting by AP

More: Ex-Mubarak PM praises Egypt’s uprising ahead of presidential run-off

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