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Egypt to hold election run-offs, Mubarak’s dilemma
Egypt to hold election run-offs   The Muslim Brotherhood says its supporters are being harassed Egyptians are due to vote on Wednesday in the final stage of a month-long poll which has confirmed the illegal Muslim Brotherhood as the main opposition. Independents backed by the group have made strong gains, winning around 76 seats, or 18% of the
Wednesday, December 7,2005 00:00
by Ikhwan web

Egypt to hold election run-offs 
 
The Muslim Brotherhood says its supporters are being harassed
Egyptians are due to vote on Wednesday in the final stage of a month-long poll which has confirmed the illegal Muslim Brotherhood as the main opposition.
Independents backed by the group have made strong gains, winning around 76 seats, or 18% of the total. There are run-offs in 127 districts on Wednesday.

Widespread violence and irregularities have marred the election.

The US has said opposition arrests and abuse of election monitors have sent a bad signal about Egyptian politics.

According to the Brotherhood, the authorities have arrested 1,400 of its members, many of them campaign workers, in recent days.

As its gains increase, it said, so does the determination of the ruling party to arrest its progress.

In the last round of voting, police sealed off many polling stations to prevent Brotherhood supporters from casting their ballots.

But even if the group fails in this stage to replicate its earlier success it has already secured five times as many seats as it had in the previous 454-seat parliament.

The signs are that a new chapter in Egyptian politics has started, the BBC’s Heba Saleh reports from Cairo.

Mubarak’s dilemma

In the short term, President Hosni Mubarak’s ruling National Democratic Party will control parliament but its future dominance could now be in question.

In the first two rounds of voting, almost three quarters of the candidates backed by the Islamists won, while the legal opposition parties were all but wiped out.

Analysts say the situation leaves Egyptians with a difficult choice between autocracy and Islamism.

The Brotherhood’s unexpected gains will also make it difficult for the government to continue to deny the group legal recognition.

The authorities will now face a dilemma, our Cairo correspondent says.

Either they relax the restrictions on the Brotherhood and watch it become stronger or they continue to repress it, alienating many Egyptians.

US warning

The US says it sees the arrest, intimidation and harassment of opposition figures in Egypt as disturbing.

 
Nour is caged when in court as is the practice in Egypt

A state department spokesman said that Washington believed those actions were inconsistent with Egypt’s professed commitment to democratic reform.

It specifically cited the arrest of leading opposition figure Ayman Nour.

It is understood that the US had warned the Egyptian government against such a move.

Washington says it will now be watching Mr Nour’s trial closely.

The US has been eager to search for encouraging signs, BBC state department correspondent Jonathan Beale reports.

It points to the debate being held among the Egyptian public about the election process.

However, Washington had clearly hoped for more substantial progress.

 


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