Egypt ruling party `wins 419 of 508 seats`

Trailing far behind Mubarak`s National Democratic Party (NDP) was the opposition with 15 seats.

Last Updated: Dec 07, 2010, 00:50 AM IST

Cairo: Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak`s party won 419 of 508 seats in parliamentary polls, the electoral commission said Monday after the opposition cried foul and monitors charged the vote was marred by fraud.

Trailing far behind Mubarak`s National Democratic Party (NDP) was the opposition with 15 seats, after most of the opposition boycotted the polls, while independents garnered 70, according to figures released to the media.

Monitors had previously charged that the polling, which ended with a second round on Sunday, was marked by widespread fraud, while the European Union voiced concern on Monday about reports of irregularities and violence.

Egypt`s main opposition groups, the Muslim Brotherhood and liberal Wafd party, had refused to take part in Sunday`s runoff after the NDP swept 209 out of 211 seats in the first round of voting on November 28.

Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif insisted on Monday that there had been "no interference" by the police or authorities in the polling.

His government has dismissed the fraud charges, acknowledging only minor irregularities without any impact on the results, and the NDP accuses the opposition of engineering its own ouster through its decision to boycott.

But the Independent Coalition for Elections` Observation said widespread violations, including violence and fraud, had marred both rounds, raising serious questions over the legitimacy of the new parliament.

"Both rounds of elections witnessed violence in the presence of security which directly resulted in the death of a number of citizens, the exclusion of candidates and their representatives, and attacks" on independent monitors.

"Polling stations and ballot counting premises have become breeding grounds for forging ballot cards and manipulation of the will of voters... This was especially apparent during the second round," the Egyptian group added.

Sunday`s runoff saw NDP candidates run mostly against members of the same party.
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said the implementation of measures taken by the Cairo government and the commission to increase transparency in the process had been "insufficient."

"I was concerned by reports of irregularities, restricted access for independent observers and candidates` representatives into polling stations, media restrictions as well as arrests of opposition activists," Ashton said.

"A significant segment of the opposition withdrew after the first round of the elections. I particularly regret the incidents of violence, some of them resulting in loss of life.

"I encourage the Egyptian authorities to respond to these concerns," she said in a statement.

The first round was also heavily criticised by Egypt`s ally the United States and human rights groups, especially over the harassment and intimidation of the Brotherhood.

Opposition papers said Egypt was turning into a one-party state with a servile parliament which is tasked next year with electing a president at a time when long-time incumbent Mubarak, 82, has yet to clarify if he will stand.

"A number of questions that have been raised during the present elections are very likely to be raised in the next election," one Western diplomat in Cairo said on condition of anonymity.

The near absence of opposition parties in parliament means that whoever stands for the NDP in the presidential election will face almost no challenge, a scenario which could raise questions over the president`s legitimacy.

Bureau Report