Cairo: Egypt`s largest opposition group,
the Muslim Brotherhood, will contest upcoming parliamentary
elections despite calls for a boycott, a senior official with
the group said on Thursday.
The decision, which comes nearly a month after a
leading democracy advocate called on parties to skip the
polls, highlights the fractured state of Egypt`s opposition.
But the Brotherhood`s choice to field candidates in
the November polls was widely expected. The organisation
traditionally views elections as its best chance to
demonstrate its strength to its supporters and pressure the
regime of President Hosni Mubarak, who has ruled for nearly 30
"We choose to be positive and run in the elections,"
said Brotherhood lawmaker Saad el-Katatni, the head of the
group`s caucus in parliament.
He said the decision stemmed in part from the
opposition`s inability to present a common front.
"If there was unity, we would have joined them (in a
boycott) to embarrass the regime," he said. He added that it
was too early to say how many candidates the Brotherhood will
Egypt`s three main political parties - the liberal
Al-Wafd, the pan-Arab Nasserist, and the leftist opposition
Tagammu - have also said that they will contest the elections.
That leaves former UN nuclear chief Mohamed ElBaradei,
who initiated the call to stay away from the polls, his
supporters and two small parties alone in their boycott.
ElBaradei, who has emerged as a popular opposition
figure since returning home this year, made his boycott appeal
early this month, saying the elections are sure to be rigged.
He said those who contest the polls would be going against
"the national will".
ElBaradei doesn`t have a recognised political party
and said he won`t participate in official political life
unless election laws and the constitution are changed to
remove state restrictions on freedoms.
The Brotherhood won 88 seats in Egypt`s current
454-seat parliament - a surprisingly strong result that was
widely viewed as a victory. Its candidates run as independents
because the group is officially banned by the government.