M. B. may contest elections using own name

M. B. may contest elections using own name

Egypt”s Muslim Brotherhood, officially outlawed but widely tolerated, may have its candidates run under the movement”s own name in November”s parliamentary polls, rather than as independents as they have done in the past. Pan Arab daily al-Sharq al-Awsat on Thursday quoted sources close to the movement”s leadership as saying that potential candidates had been sent a letter in which they are told to put Muslim Brotherhood next to their names in their applications. The same title is reportedly to be used on all campaign material, from flyers to press statements.

To date the Muslim Brotherhood candidates have had to stand as independents in any electoral contest as the organisation is not officially recognised as a political party. The group was outlawed in 1954.

Reports suggest that as many as 155 of their candidates may stand in the 444 parliamentary seats, 90 percent of which are currently held by president Hosni Mubarak”s National Democratic Party (NDP).

The leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood on Wednesday urged Egyptians to shake off their apathy and vote in the phased polls starting 9 November. Speaking at an iftar, a banquet to break the fast during the holy month of Ramadan, Mohammed Mahdi Akef said the vote must be “free and fair” and produce “an honest parliament that truly expresses the will of the people.”

The results of the general elections are fundamental not just for the hesitant process of political reform in the Arab world”s most populous country, but also because under the new presidential system, only opposition parties that score more than five percent of seats in parliament can field a candidate for the 2011 elections.

Incumbent president Hosni Mubarak was re-elected in September in the first ever multi-party elections but tough eligibility criteria led many opposition groups to condemn it as a sham.