Egyptians head to polls again in Parliament vote

Egyptians vote Tuesday in the third round of a parliamentary election that has so far handed Islamists the biggest share of seats in an Assembly.

Updated: Jan 03, 2012, 13:24 PM IST

Cairo: Egyptians vote Tuesday in the third round of a parliamentary election that has so far handed Islamists the biggest share of seats in an assembly that will be central in the transition from army rule.

Islamist groups came late to the uprising that unseated president Hosni Mubarak in February, but were well placed to seize the moment when Egyptians were handed the first chance in six decades to choose their representatives freely.

The run-up to the third round has been overshadowed by the deaths of 17 people last month in clashes between the army and protesters demanding the military step aside immediately. But the ruling generals have insisted the election process will not be derailed by violence.

Monitors mostly praised the first two rounds as free of the ballot stuffing, thuggery and vote rigging that once guaranteed landslide wins for Mubarak`s party.

But police raids on pro-democracy and rights groups last week have disrupted the work of leading Western-backed election monitors and drew accusations that the army was deliberately trying to weaken oversight of the vote and silence critics.

The government said the raids were part of a probe into illegal foreign funding of political parties and not aimed at weakening rights groups, which have been among the fiercest critics of the army`s turbulent rule.

Nevertheless, Washington called on the Egyptian government to halt "harassment" of the groups involved.

The U.S.-funded International Republican Institute said it had been invited by Egypt government to monitor the election and did not give funding to political parties or civic groups.
It urged the government to let staff return to their offices and obtain the official registration they had long requested.

"There is no reason not to allow IRI to assess the elections," the IRI said in a statement Monday.

PTI