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The Muslim Brotherhood built its strength in Egypt’s parliament this
The Muslim Brotherhood built its strength in Egypt’s parliament this weekend, winning 29 more seats in elections despite restrictions on voting and arrests of its supporters ... . ... 115 candidates won seats in Saturday’s run-offs...  75 for the ruling National Democratic Party; 38 for independents; and two for the New Wafd opposition party. Judges stopped the election
Tuesday, November 29,2005 00:00
by (Agencies )

The Muslim Brotherhood built its strength in Egypt’s parliament this
weekend, winning 29 more seats in elections despite restrictions on voting
and arrests of its supporters ... .
... 115 candidates won seats in Saturday’s run-offs...  75 for the ruling
National Democratic Party; 38 for independents; and two for the New Wafd
opposition party. Judges stopped the elections in three constituencies for
irregularities.
Senior Brotherhood official Ali Abdel-Fattah said on Sunday that 29 of the
winning independents were members of the group. ... .
   [IMRA: As the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood is not allowed to appear on the
ballot, it runs as "independent".].
The Islamist group has now won 76 seats - more than five times the number it
held in the outgoing chamber. About a third of Parliament’s 444 elected
places have still to be decided.
The voting also confirmed the demise of the secular opposition, with the
defeat of the former leader of the Marxist Tagammu Party, Khaled
Mohieddine - one of the last two surviving Free Officers who led the 1952
revolution.
With the third phase of the elections still to come on Thursday, the NDP’s
dominance is not at risk but it will for the first time face a substantial
opposition bloc in Parliament.
    [IMRA: Because of the distribution of votes the Brothrhood’s proportion
of the popular vote is significantly above its proportion of seats.]
Brotherhood leader Mohammad Mehdi Akef credited public mistrust, frustration
and anger with  ... Mubarak’s regime for the group’s gains.
In an interview with the Associated Press, Akef said: "People are outraged
by the performance of this government and its ruling party. Both have fed
people nothing but bitterness," he said.
He also sought to allay Western concerns about the organization’s newfound
strength, saying it would not try to change Egypt’s foreign policy,
including its peace treaty with Israel.
"We do not recognize Israel, but we will not fight it. We will respect all
the treaties [which Egypt signed with Israel]," said Akef, whose
organization is considered the mother group for many Islamic movements such
as Hamas.
Asked if the organization would try to prevent Hamas from making peace with
Israel, Akef said: "We have nothing to do with Palestinian internal
politics," he said.
On Saturday, Egypt’s judges, supervising the polling process, accused the
government of trying to prevent voters from casting their ballots and
seeking to forge results.
"Polling stations were sealed off and voters were prevented from casting
their ballots. Police refused to obey the orders of the polling station
officials who demanded that people be allowed to vote," the judges’
syndicate said in a statement.
It also accused the Interior Ministry of modifying electoral registers in a
bid to prevent Egyptians from voting and called on its members to demand
re-runs where needed.
In reaction, the pro-government Supreme Judicial Council demanded the
judges’ prosecution for "interfering in politics."
Judges should "refrain from appearing on satellite channels commenting on
political elections and claiming the process to be fraud" or face
investigation, a council statement said.
Outside some polling stations, armed backers of both Islamist and secular
politicians engaged in fierce clashes.
Abdel-Fattah said police arrested 680 Brotherhood members and supporters
nationwide on Saturday.
Many Egyptians fear that the Brotherhood was simply using the political
system as a means to gain power before abolishing any trace of democracy.
"We respect all freedoms and believe in rotating power and in the ballot
boxes, now and for all," Akef told AP by way of answering those fears.
He said the group’s parliamentary bloc would focus on a constitutional
amendment to limit the president to two terms and new legislation that would
remove bans on formation of political parties.


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