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Sabbahi's camp claims 'violations' in Egypt vote

Campaign of Egypt's Sabbahi says poll violations 'reminiscent of the Mubarak regime' but their candidate will not withdraw
Pro-Sabbahi activists have been allegedly arrested or harassed while observing Monday's vote (AA)

The campaign of Egyptian presidential candidate Hamdeen Sabbahi on Monday claimed "violations" on the first day of voting in Egypt's poll.

"These violations are reminiscent of the Mubarak regime," campaign spokesman Maasoum Marzouk told a press conference in Cairo, referring to the regime of autocrat Hosni Mubarak who was ousted in a 2011 uprising.

He said that some pro-Sabbahi activists have been arrested or harassed while observing Monday's vote.

Marzouk said supporters of rival contender Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, who led the army to unseat elected president Mohamed Morsi last July, were allowed to campaign outside polling stations.

The spokesman, however, ruled out Sabbahi's withdrawal from the election over the alleged violations.

"There is not decision to withdraw from the race right now," Marzouk told Anadolu Agency. "But if the violations persisted, we might consider another position."

Marzouk's allegations could not be verified.

Observers expect al-Sisi to dominate the polls, especially after he secured an overwhelming 95.4 percent of the vote in expatriate polling last week, according to results announced by Egypt's electoral commission.

'Popular boycott'

Presidential poll results will be officially announced on June 5.

Meanwhile, the main support bloc of ousted president Mohamed Morsi has hailed what it described as the "popular boycott" of Egypt's presidential election.

"We have followed with admiration the massive boycott by free Egyptians of the election of blood," the pro-Morsi National Alliance for the Defense of Legitimacy said in a statement on Monday.

"The Egyptian people… have proved their support for the January 25 revolution – which ousted long-serving president Hosni Mubarak – and its gains," it added.

Some 54 million Egyptians are eligible to cast ballots in the two-day presidential poll, the second since the 2011 uprising that led to Mubarak's ouster.

Egyptian police on Monday dispersed demonstrations staged in different parts of the country by supporters of Morsi against the country's presidential election, eyewitnesses said.

Police used teargas in the central province of Beni Sueif to disperse pro-Morsi protesters who gathered in the northern part of the province to demonstrate against the election.

A number of demonstrators reportedly suffered temporary asphyxiation as a result.

Demonstrators also chanted against leftist presidential candidate Hamdeen Sabbahi.

Meanwhile, an observer mission to Egypt's presidential election said that "no blatant violations" had been reported in the first hours of voting on Monday.

Hassan Moussa, who leads a joint observers' mission, cited to Anadolu Agency the use of popular al-Sisi campaign songs outside polling stations, but added that this was "not a "blatant violation."