EGYPT: Muslim Brotherhood to boycott parliamentary elections runoff
After its accusations of government fraud and vote buying during Sunday's first round of the parliamentary elections, Egypt's largest opposition group, the Muslim Brotherhood, has decided not to take part in this weekend's runoff poll.
The decision comes one day after the Higher Elections Committee announced the first round's official results in which the Islamist group failed to win a single seat, but still had 27 candidates to compete in the runoff.
"The violations, terror and hooliganism we were subjected to at the hands of security forces and NDP [National Democratic Party] thugs before and during elections, all of which were reported by civil and media organizations, as well as the forged results, made us reconsider taking part in the runoff," Mohamed Badee, the Brotherhood's Supreme Guide, said in a statement on Wednesday.
"Although we'd have still had 27 candidates running next Sunday, discussions within the group's Shura [counseling] Assembly led to 72% of its members voting in favor of boycotting the second round," the statement added.
The ruling National Democratic Party won nearly 95% of the 221 seats settled in the first round. Most of the remaining undecided seats will be contested by NDP candidates against each other, guaranteeing President Hosni Mubarak's party an absolute majority.
The boycott cast doubts over the Brotherhood's decision not to boycott the entire election. Nonetheless, Badee affirmed that his group's participation was based on the belief that all national powers should take part in efforts to reform Egypt. But the results leave the Islamist organization stripped of legislative influence.
The Brotherhood, which controls 88 seats or about 20% of the outgoing parliament, will be joined by Egypt's biggest secular opposition party, Wafd, in withdrawing its candidates from Sunday's voting.
While conceding that a number of irregularities occurred in the first round, the Higher Elections Commission expressed its satisfaction with the process, adding that the reported violations did not affect the general outcome of the elections.
The Muslim Brotherhood, whose candidates run as independents to get around a ban against the establishment of political parties based on religious beliefs, had formed the largest opposition bloc.
-- Amro Hassan in Cairo
Photo: Muslim Brotherhood Supreme Guide, Mohamed Badee, speaks during a press conference on Tuesday. Credit: Agence France-Presse