Egypt: Will the person who voted for Musa please stand up?

Egyptian women leave a polling station casting their votes at a polling station in the Nile Delta City of Tanta, 120 kilometres north of Cairo, on March 27, 2018 on the second day of the 2018 presidential elections. (AFP)
Updated 28 March 2018

Egypt: Will the person who voted for Musa please stand up?

CAIRO: He may be one of just two candidates in Egypt’s presidential election, but finding someone in Cairo who is voting for Musa Mustafa Musa is far from an easy task.
Moving from one polling station to another, through Cairo’s busy streets, Arab News struggled to locate a single Musa voter.
Over two long days and with visits to polling stations in Maadi, Sayeda Zayneb, New Cairo and Nasr City, not one person we met was willing to voice their support for the only rival to Abdel Fattah El-Sisi.
Finally, in one of the polling stations in Agouza, a central district on the banks of the Nile, there was success.
Nadia, a housewife in her 40s living in the neighborhood, said she was supporting Musa.
But her decision was based not on an admiration for his policies or dislike of the incumbent.
“Well, I am here to support Musa Mustafa Musa because I don’t want the election results to look bad,” Nadia said with a smile.
El-Sisi won 97 percent of the vote in 2014, and is assured of victory when the three days of voting end on Wednesday.
The opposition has claimed the government deterred other potential rivals through a strategy of intimidation.
Musa has been unashamed in saying his candidacy is essentially in support of El-Sisi.
During the election campaign, the leader of the secular and centrist Al Ghad party even produced a banner supporting El-Sisi. “We support you for another presidential term,” it said.
As a result, his efforts have been viewed with a degree of ridicule.
On Twitter, a hashtag created by his campaign and containing Musa’s name has been trending due to the number of jokes about his candidacy.
One tweet said: “Go back to sleep Hajj Musa, we will wake you up once El-Sisi wins.”
Musa dismisses accusations he is being used to present a false sense of competition, and the electoral commission says it will ensure the vote is fair and transparent.
The candidate earlier said his last-minute decision to challenge El-Sisi was intended to rescue Egypt. The constitution will not allow a sole contender.
“If he falls, we all fall,” Musa said in a television interview.
The strange circumstances mean that Musa is warmly received among El-Sisi voters.
“We are not doing enough to thank you (Musa). Even a whole century of appreciation is not enough. You have proved that you are a true soldier of Egypt”, said Mona El-Ashry, Cairo resident and an El-Sisi supporter.
Musa said during his campaign that he expects to win 20-25 percent of the vote with the help of 7,500 campaigners.
But judging by the response at polling stations during the first two days of voting, the chances that one out of five people will vote for him seem slim.
Meanwhile, El-Sisi has fended off questions about the lack of opposition.
“It is not my fault,” he said in a recent interview. “I wished there would have been more candidates for people to choose who they want. But they were not ready yet, there is no shame in this.”
Egyptian authorities arrested former army Gen. Sami Anan in January, saying his candidacy breached the laws of his military service.
Former prime minister Ahmed Shafik and human-rights lawyer Khaled Ali announced their candidacies, but withdrew later.

Houthi militia ‘must respect neutrality of aid workers’

Updated 19 January 2019

Houthi militia ‘must respect neutrality of aid workers’

  • The recommendations came as UN monitors try to strengthen a cease-fire in the port of Hodeidah
  • Houthis were blamed for an attack on a UN convey on Thursday

 NEW YORK: UN experts monitoring sanctions against Yemen are recommending that the Security Council urge the Houthis to respect the neutrality and independence of humanitarian workers.

The Associated Press has obtained the nine recommendations the panel of experts made in their latest report to the council.

The recommendations came as UN monitors try to strengthen a cease-fire in the port of Hodeidah, key to the delivery of 70 percent of Yemen’s imports and humanitarian aid, and arrange a withdrawal of rival forces from the area agreed to by the government and the Houthis on Dec. 13.

While the agreement in Stockholm was limited, if fully implemented it could offer a potential breakthrough in Yemen’s four-year civil war.

The experts asked the Security Council committee monitoring sanctions against Yemen to engage with Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’s office, Yemen’s government and donors to “enhance” the UN mission inspecting vessels heading to ports in Yemen for illegal arms so it can “identify networks using false documentation to evade inspection.”

They also suggested that Guterres organize a conference with the International Monetary Fund and World Bank as well as other “key actors to best manage cash flows and imports of goods,” using the principles of the UN Global Compact on how companies should conduct business.

And the experts recommended that the secretary-general ask the UN inspection mission and monitors at the port of Hodeidah “to share information on potential cases of acts that threaten the peace, stability and security of Yemen,” including violations of international human rights and humanitarian law, the UN arms embargo, and obstructions of humanitarian assistance.

The experts also asked the sanctions committee to consider sending three letters. One would be to Abu Al-Abbas, a militia commander in the flashpoint city of Taiz, asking him to transfer artifacts and items from the Taiz National Museum in his custody to Yemen’s government. 

A second would be to alert the International Maritime Organization to “the risks posed by anti-ship cruise missiles and water-borne improvised explosive devices in the Red Sea and to encourage it to discuss these threats with the commercial shipping industry with the aim of developing suitable precautions and countermeasures.”

The third would be to alert the International Civil Aviation Organization of the risks posed by drones and munitions to civil aviation, particularly near busy international airports on the Arabian Peninsula “and encourage it to discuss these threats with airport operators and airlines with the aim of developing suitable precautions and countermeasures.”