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Egypt: Gov’t thugs destroy polling booths as engineers vote for head of syndicate

Journalist Heba Yaseen wrote on Facebook that she witnessed the beltagaya destroying the boxes containing the voting cards

May 31, 2023 at 11:15 am

Supporters of the pro-government Nation’s Future Party have stormed polling booths where members of the engineers’ syndicate were voting to secure the head of the union.

In videos circulating online party supporters – known in Egypt as beltagaya, or thugs – stream into the room where engineers have gathered to vote.

As the noise level in the room rises, they push and shove the people present, turn over tables and tear up their polling cards.

Journalist Heba Yaseen wrote on Facebook that she witnessed the beltagaya destroying the boxes containing the voting cards: “This incident is a disgrace and a political scandal that should not be tolerated or ignored.”

In a video address posted on Facebook, head of the engineers’ syndicate Tarek El Nabrawy accused the party of trying to overthrow him and “the will of the engineers” to take control of the union.

He called on all engineers to protect the union from “robbery.”

The opposing candidate is the former Minister of Transport Hani Dahi, a leader in the Nation’s Future Party.

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The two men are longstanding rivals, with Hani Dahi winning the seat in 2018. Then in March 2022 El Nabrawy was voted in, ousting Dahi.

In past elections, Dahi has been accused of busing in supporters to ensure he swings the vote favourably in his direction.

In 2020 it was revealed that President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi’s supporters would be brought to Cairo by buses rented by the Nation’s Future Party and given free meals in exchange for taking part in a pro-government protest.

Security services also hired beltagaya to warn protesters off at sites popular for demonstrations.

Al-Araby Al-Jadeed reported that 85 per cent of voters refused to withdraw confidence from Tarek El Nabrawy at the vote yesterday, despite being pressured to do so.

“The thugs of the Future of Egypt party smashing the ballot boxes to ruin the engineers’ decision to renew the chairmanship of Tariq El Nabrawy,” Egyptian journalist Haytham Abokhalil captioned the video he posted on Twitter.

“Unfortunately this is a lesson for everyone. Whoever remained silent over the army destroying the ballot boxes in 2013 is watching history repeat itself.”