Egypt hits back at US over election comments

Egypt hits back at US over election comments

Egypt hit back at Washington on Friday for issuing an apparent warning in favour of the opposition Muslim Brotherhood by expressing concern over a “campaign of arrests” ahead of key elections.

On Wednesday, Washington said it was “concerned by a continuing campaign of arrests in Egypt of individuals who are opponents of the current governing party and are involved in the upcoming local elections,” said White House spokeswoman Dana Perino.

“These comments reflect a lack of understanding of Egypt”s political reality,” Egyptian foreign ministry spokesman Hossam Zaki said in a statement.

Egypt”s government has recently intensified its crackdown against the Muslim Brotherhood — the largest and most organised opposition group in the country — ahead of the municipal elections scheduled for April 8.

The group”s deputy supreme guide Mohammed Habib told AFP on Thursday that at least 90 percent of the Islamist candidates were prevented from registering for the elections due to a clampdown by the regime and a campaign of obstruction.

At least 900 members have been arrested since mid-February, he said.

Traditionally controlled by President Hosni Mubarak”s National Democratic Party, the municipal elections have gained importance since a 2005 constitutional amendment required independent presidential candidates to have the backing of local councillors.