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Papers put Mubarak ahead with 80 pct in Egypt
Updated: 2005-09-09 21:48

President Hosni Mubarak has won a fifth six-year term in Egypt's first contested presidential election, taking more than 80 percent of the vote in a low turnout, state newspapers said on Friday.

"Mubarak...is the elected president," said al-Gomhuria in a headline. "Mubarak obtains the trust and support of the people," said another government newspaper, al-Akhbar.

The Presidential Election Commission, which ran the election on Wednesday and is supervising the count, is expected to announce the official result late on Friday or on Saturday.

According to monitors and the opposition, the voting was marred by widespread abuses and irregularities, mainly by Mubarak's National Democratic Party (NDP) and by the organizers.

However, the abuses would not have affected the overall result, said several monitoring groups, including the independent Egyptian Organization for Human Rights.

The election commission, whose decisions are final, on Thursday rejected a rerun request from Ayman Nour of the liberal Ghad (Tomorrow) Party, Mubarak's best known rival.

Detailed voting figures from 15 of Egypt's 26 provinces, published in the state newspaper al-Ahram, showed that Mubarak won everywhere, with between 69 and 98 percent of the vote.

The figures in al-Ahram gave an average of 83 percent for Mubarak, but it did not include tallies for three big urban areas -- Cairo, Giza and the Mediterranean city of Alexandria.

The turnout in big cities tends to be lower and the pattern of voting is more diverse than in rural areas.

A big surprise was the low turnout figures published in the newspapers, as low as 19 percent in the southern province of Sohag. When Mubarak won his fourth six-year term by referendum in 1999, the government said 79 percent of people voted.


Observers have always said that the real turnout is very low, sometimes only a few percent in the presidential referendums, when people had no incentive to take part.

Under the old system, parliament chose Mubarak as the sole presidential candidate and people voted in a yes-no referendum. He decided to change the system after the United States and domestic groups pressed for political change.

The detailed figures in al-Ahram confirmed that Nour, the feisty young lawyer who ran the most vigorous campaign against Mubarak, was well ahead of Noman Gomaa of the liberal Wafd Party, which dominated Egyptian politics before the military overthrew the monarchy in 1952.

Based on the al-Ahram figures, Nour received 6.2 percent of the vote in the 15 provinces but his share should rise once the big cities are added. The newspaper said he scored 20 percent in the Nile Delta province of Buheira and 16 percent in Alexandria -- two provinces not among the 15 for which it gave details.

The average turnout was 30.8 percent for the 15 provinces, but that should fall once the cities are included.

The results, if confirmed, would confirm Nour as the leader of the secular opposition. Ghad is already the largest single party in parliament, which remains dominated by the NDP.

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