Egypt`s Brotherhood pulls out of election
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Last Updated: Thursday, December 02, 2010, 00:50
  
Cairo: Egypt's top two opposition movements on Wednesday pulled out of parliamentary elections, citing widespread fraud, after they were all but shut out in a first round of voting.

The move by the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood, the strongest opposition force in the country, and the smaller, secular liberal Wafd party is a blow to this top US ally's efforts to portray itself as a democracy.

Egypt's government has staunchly defended the fairness of last Sunday's election, despite reports of rampant rigging in favour of the ruling party.

A top Brotherhood official said the movement had decided to pull out of a second round of voting scheduled for the coming Sunday. He spoke on condition of anonymity because the official announcement, expected today, had not yet been made.

The Brotherhood held 88 seats in the outgoing parliament, a fifth of its seats. But results announced yesterday showed not a single candidate from its ranks won a seat in the first round.

Twenty-six Brotherhood candidates made it into the run-off.

The movement, which is banned but runs candidates as independents, came under a heavy crackdown ahead of the vote, with some 1,400 of its activists arrested during the campaign.

Critics said the ruling National Democratic Party appeared determined to purge the Brotherhood from the legislature, particularly at a time when presidential elections are due next year and there are questions over the future of the country's leadership, after 82-year-old President Hosni Mubarak underwent surgery earlier this year.

The Wafd party announced it was withdrawing from the run-off because of "fraud and thuggery" during the first round, its spokesman Moataz Salah Eddin told The Associated Press. "This is a message to those rigging elections," he said.

The Wafd had a handful of seats in the outgoing party. In the first round, two of its candidates won seats. Salah Eddin said they would take the seats as independents.

The Wafd is the oldest and most effective of Egypt's numerous secular opposition parties, but that's not saying much: Hardly any of the parties, most of which rely on government financing, have any grassroots organisation or support.

The Wafd still has pockets of support around the country, but it too has withered. Only the Brotherhood is seen as well organised around the nation, and enjoys popularity because of the many social services it provides.

PTI


First Published: Thursday, December 02, 2010, 00:50


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