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
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
Twenty-six Brotherhood candidates made it into the
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
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
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.