Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood gains in run-off

Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood gains in run-off
afrol News, 16 November – “Independent” candidates of Egypt’s banned Muslim Brotherhood party have gained a large number of seats in the run-off voting after the first round of the country’s parliamentary polls. The Brotherhood is establishing itself as the country’s major opposition force despite government efforts to eliminate the grouping.

There are few surprises in Egypt’s parliamentary elections. The ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) is on its way to maintain its totally dominant grip on the Cairo parliament – due to massive fraud and manipulation, according to most Egyptians. Currently, four opposition groups only hold 17 out of 444 parliamentary seats, in addition to 37 independents.

The Muslim Brotherhood is the only small surprise in this first poll round, gaining more seats than most expected the government would grant them. Independents representing the banned religious party claim to have won at least 33 seats so far. The claim seems supported by preliminary results published today. Only this would double the Brotherhood’s representation.

The Muslim Brotherhood has been banned as a political movement in Egypt, accused of being too close to terrorist groups. This allegation however never has been proven and the movement is believed to be the most popular party in Egypt. Due to the ban, Brotherhood members can only present themselves as independent candidates in polls.

According to spokesmen of the Muslim movement, the NDP and Egyptian authorities have used every trick in the book to manipulate the polls in favour of the ruling party. “There is fraud everywhere, no transparency, no freedom,” Brotherhood leader Mohammed Mehdi Akef told the press after casting his vote on 9 November. The movement’s relative success therefore comes as a surprise.

The electoral process in Egypt is somewhat complicated and is not expected to end until mid-December. In the first round, held in eight of the country’s 26 governorates, 164 seats were voted on. Run-offs in this first round were held yesterday. Two more rounds are to be held on 20 November and 1 December, both followed up by run-offs where necessary.

As part of Egypt’s pro-democracy reform process, these elections nevertheless play an important role and have noted a greater voter turnout than previous legislative polls. Only party’s getting a parliamentary group of more than 22 may present a candidate to the 2011 presidential elections.

The Muslim Brotherhood, not being a party, probably will not be allowed to present a candidate in 2011. Egypt’s most known opposition leader, Ayman Nour of the al-Ghad Party, also lost his parliamentary seat in this poll, disqualifying him for the presidency. Mr Nour was seen as the principal challenger of President Hosni Mubarak in the upcoming presidential elections.


By staff writer