Mubarak’s party ousts rival leader in Egypt vote By Tom Perry

Mubarak’s party ousts rival leader in Egypt vote By Tom Perry

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s National Democratic Party (NDP) ousted opposition leader Ayman Nour from parliament and took a strong early lead in legislative elections, according to first results announced on Thursday.

The election commission said Nour, leader of the liberal Ghad (Tomorrow) Party and Mubarak’s main rival in presidential elections in September, lost in the Cairo constituency he has represented for the last 10 years.

Nour, 41, complained of irregularities and told Reuters in an interview that he would use his time out of parliament to prepare for another presidential race in 2011 or earlier.

“They insist on this party (the NDP) continuing to monopolize everything in Egypt… That undermines all the claims about reform, change and the transfer of power,” he said.

Opposition and monitoring groups reported violations during the voting, including bribery. The Egyptian Organization for Human Rights (EOHR) said voters had been intimidated outside polling stations.

“NDP candidates used thugs in front of some stations as security forces stood by … We also witnessed widespread use of money (for votes),” said EOHR Secretary-General Hafez Abu Seada.

Leading NDP figures, including parliament speaker Fathi Sorour, Finance Minister Youssef Boutros-Ghali and two other government ministers, held their seats in Wednesday’s voting.

The NDP won 24 of the first 28 seats decided, Egypt’s state Middle East News Agency said. For the remaining 136 seats contested in the first stage, the top two candidates will probably have to compete again on Tuesday, the agency added.

The Muslim Brotherhood, which is fielding more than 100 candidates as independents across the country, won three seats, confirming the status of the Islamist organization as the strongest opposition group. One other independent won a seat.

Brotherhood candidates will contest 42 of the run-offs, the group’s deputy leader Mohamed Habib said.

But the secular opposition, which came together to fight the dominance of the NDP, appeared to have fared badly.


The National Front for Political and Constitutional Change, an alliance of leftists, liberals and Arab nationalists, had won no seats. No recognized opposition party will take part in run-offs in more than 100 seats for which details are available.

Opposition groups and monitoring bodies complained of widespread irregularities and many candidates are expected to prepare appeals again the results.

“Of course we can’t say we are happy … There were clear violations. There was vote buying and box swapping,” Habib said.

The leftist Tagammu, which was part of the National Front, said in a statement: “Thuggery remained master of the situation in many polling stations. Candidates from the NDP, independents and the Brotherhood helped legitimise this thuggery.”

“Electoral bribes were distributed openly. The NDP bears most of the responsibility for that,” it added.

Turnout was low by international standards, ranging from about 10 to 25 percent, with more people voting in rural areas. Abu Seada said the average turnout was 15 percent.

Some constituencies had more than 20 candidates, in many cases including former NDP members who failed to obtain the party’s nomination and broke with party discipline to challenge the official NDP candidate.

After winning in previous elections, such independents have usually rejoined the ruling party.

The voting on Wednesday was in Cairo, the central provinces and two remote areas. Other parts of the country will vote on November 20 and December 1, with second-round run-offs six days later. The final result may not come out until the middle of December.

The contest overall is for 444 elected seats in the People’s Assembly, the lower house of parliament, and it could decide which parties can take part in the next presidential elections.

Under new rules now taking effect, winning 23 seats is one of the conditions parties must meet to field candidates in any presidential elections during the term of the new parliament.

Mubarak, 77, won a fifth six-year term in September but politicians have speculated that he might not complete it.

His 41-year-old son Gamal, who played a prominent part in the NDP’s parliamentary campaign, is at the center of speculation about who might succeed him.

(Additional reporting by Jonathan Wright, Amil Khan and Heba Kandil