Tahrir: Numbers dwindle on vote day
Cairo - Hundreds of diehard revolutionaries in iconic Tahrir Square said on Monday they had no confidence in Egypt's first post-revolution polls and will boycott a vote they fought to bring about.
The square, the epicentre of protests that brought down the 30-year rule of strongman Hosni Mubarak, was occupied again last week by activists demanding the end to the ruling military council.
Tens of thousands massed in the square demanding the resignation of interim council leader Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, leading to clashes that left 42 dead and thousands injured.
"What we in Tahrir want is the ouster of Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, so obviously I will not participate in elections he is organising," said Omar Hatem, eating breakfast on the square on Monday morning.
The movement against Tantawi appeared to have lost momentum, however, with a mass demonstration called for Sunday poorly attended and only a few hundred people in evidence on Monday morning.
At polling stations in Cairo and the second city of Alexandria, thousands turned out to cast their vote in the first elections since the end of Mubarak's rule, one of the seminal events of the Arab Spring.
Many Egyptians say they are fed up with the protests and want the process of electing a new parliament and drawing up a constitution to begin as soon as possible.
The Tahrir movement, named after the square where protests began against Mubarak, is deeply divided over whether to take part in the elections and lend legitimacy to the military rulers.
Abdelmoneim Ibrahim who belongs to the April 6 pro-democracy movement which helped launch the uprising against Mubarak, said he would only observe the process without taking part.
"I had planned to vote, but that what was before the death of the martyrs on Mohammed Mahmud street," he told AFP, referring to a street leading from Tahrir to the interior ministry where last week's violence occured.
Others have no objection to the elections, but simply reject the candidates running.
"Some friends and I have decided to cross out our ballot papers to show that we do not want any of these people," said Oum Moez, a shop owner who spent several nights in Tahrir.
Activists reacted angrily when a high court ruling on November 14 allowed members of Mubarak's now dissolved National Democratic Party to run in the elections.
"I don't know these candidates nor the parties, but anyway, most belonged to the former regime so I will not participate,' said 21-year-old student Abdelrahman.
In the garden in the middle of the square, Bahya Kasseb, 43, emerges from the tent where she has camped out for several days.
"They can do whatever they want with their elections, but me, I will not vote. I will express my demands from here, in Tahrir," she snapped.