Amid military operations and militant activity, polls opened in North Sinai on Sunday under strict security measures.
With militant attacks disrupting life in the peninsula for the past two years, Egypt’s Armed Forces has responded with ongoing military operations, which have restricted civilian movement and activities by means of an imposed curfew and continuous military activity in the area.
Leading up to the elections, there was a debate on whether or not it would be possible to hold elections in the peninsula under these conditions.
On Sunday, judges supervising polling stations were transported from the resort that they were staying at in Arish to Sheikh Zuwayed and Rafah in armored vehicles, surrounded by military and police forces and secured by Apache helicopters hovering over the convoy.
North Sinai-based journalist Ahmed Abu Deraa was arrested on the eve of voting while covering elections preparations at a polling station.
According to sources in the governorate, Abu Deraa was at a polling station with other journalists and asked a military officer for permission to take photographs. The officer then made a phone call and said that he received orders to detain Abu Deraa, but let the other journalists go. Abu Deraa was held in the school where voting takes place until the evening before being transferred to military detention.
The area where the most intense militant operations are conducted constitutes one electoral district, including Rafah and Sheikh Zuwayed. The governorate’s urban center, Arish, represents another district, while the other three districts are relatively calmer.
The governorate of North Sinai has over 234,000 voters, represented by five individual seats and one list-system seat.