Dancing and smoking shisha, international 'observers' praise Egypt's elections

Dancing and smoking shisha, international 'observers' praise Egypt's elections
2 min read
28 March, 2018
A video that surfaced on Facebook showed an international delegation visiting Egypt dancing to the sound of traditional music with locals and smoking shisha.

The group was invited to pastries, shisha and dancing [Facebook]
An international delegation including US congressmen visiting Egypt to observe the controversial presidential elections were filmed smoking shisha and dancing in the Nile Delta governorate of Monufiya.

The US congressmen, as well as other international observers, had reportedly arrived to "inspect polling stations" in Quesna city, before they were hosted for a meal by local MP Dalia Youssef, Al-Masry Al-Youm reported.

A video posted to Facebook showed the group dancing to the sound of traditional Egyptian music with locals of the area.

Images also shows some members of the delegation smoking shisha during the luncheon.

The election has been dismissed as a sham by opposition leaders and rights groups, and a call for a boycott by the opposition was criticised by government supporters as tantamount to treason.

The delegation however reportedly praised the vote.

Egypt opened the ballots this week to voters for an election the country's strongman Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi is sure to win against a symbolic rival.

But as voter turnout dwindles at 7 percent in some areas, reports said Egyptian authorities deployed an array of tactics to mobilise voters, from cash incentives to intimidation.

One manager threatened employees who didn't vote - and then checked for their ink-stained finger as they clocked in the next day, reported the Associated Press

A regional governor pledged improved water and sanitation service to towns with a high turnout. Some people were promised more food and even cash if they went to the polls.

For months ahead of the balloting that began on Monday and runs until Wednesday, pro-government media have pushed the message that voting is a "patriotic duty" in order to counter foreign plots against Egypt.

But as the election has neared, officials are using a mixture of rewards, bullying and cajoling to boost turnout. This concerted drive has been undertaken by an array of officials and government workers, including regional governors, community and religious leaders, police and teachers.

The election comes amid the harshest crackdown on dissent in Egypt's modern history, with thousands of Islamists and secular activists in jail.