Brotherhood missing from ballots as Egypt readies to vote

One party - the banned Muslim Brotherhood - will be conspicuously absent from ballot papers when Egypt's voters head to the polls for long-delayed parliamentary elections today.

AFP| Updated: Oct 17, 2015, 13:44 PM IST

Cairo: One party - the banned Muslim Brotherhood - will be conspicuously absent from ballot papers when Egypt's voters head to the polls for long-delayed parliamentary elections today.

What had been Egypt's main opposition group for decades fell foul of the authorities after army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2013 and was elected to succeed him last year.

Since overthrowing the senior Brotherhood figure, Sisi has overseen a deadly crackdown on the group in which hundreds were killed and thousands jailed, including most of the group's leaders.

The Brotherhood's disappearance from the public political scene is a far cry from a group, then officially banned but tolerated, which fielded candidates in parliamentary elections under former president Hosni Mubarak.

Then, campaigning under its own name, the Brotherhood took a whopping 44 percent of seats in the first free democratic elections following Mubarak's ouster in 2011.

That parliament was dissolved in June 2012, but the Brotherhood's popularity shone through days later when Morsi, a civilian, was elected, putting an end to six decades of presidents coming from military ranks.

But while it has been wrested from Egypt's political arena, analysts say this is unlikely to be the last voters see of the Brotherhood.

"The Brotherhood will stay outside the political game as long as President Sisi is in power," said Hazem Hosny, professor of political science at Cairo University.

"The Brotherhood and the regime have gone too far in their confrontation."

Meanwhile, Sisi supporters are widely expected to sweep the parliamentary elections.