Brotherhood condemns Egypt poll result as invalid

 

THE MUSLIM Brotherhood yesterday condemned as invalid the results of Egypt’s parliamentary election and said it was considering a boycott of the run-off set for Sunday.

The brotherhood, which won 88 of 444 seats in the 2005 poll, took none in the first round of voting last Sunday but 26 of the independents it supported made it to the second round.

The outlawed, but tolerated brotherhood, Egypt’s largest and most influential opposition group, initially backed 132 independents; 57 were disqualified and at least 1,350 of its supporters were arrested during the campaign and on polling day.

Muslim Brotherhood leader Muhammad Badie said the government had violated its pledge to run free and fair elections but rejected a violent backlash.

“We will not allow anyone to tempt us into breaking the law . . . The crimes committed by the regime clearly reflect its weakness and confusion.”

Next year, Egyptians are scheduled to choose a new president whose main job will be to manage the transition from the 29-year reign of ailing Hosni Mubarak (82) to a successor. But the country’s political elite faces uncertainty and possibly unrest, since Mr Mubarak has neither named a vice-president nor identified an heir.

To bolster its grip on power, the regime sought to ensure that the overwhelming majority of seats in the new 508-member people’s assembly were won by the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) which fielded 780 candidates and took 170 seats in the first round.

In many constituencies, the contest will be between NDP candidates.

The liberal Wafd fielded more than 200 candidates but took only three of the six seats won by the secular opposition.

Many Wafdists are likely to see this as a violation of an understanding with the regime, because early this year it engineered a coup to secure party leadership for loyalist Sayyed Badawi.

The Muslim Brotherhood’s capture of 20 per cent of seats in the first round of the 2005 poll prompted the government to ensure that the movement won no more in two later rounds.

This time, analysts argue the government is likely to take steps to ensure the victory of a few brotherhood candidates as well as a larger number of secular opposition figures to give the consultation a measure of credibility.