Only Twenty Muslim Brotherhood Candidates to Run in Local Election

Only Twenty Muslim Brotherhood Candidates to Run in Local Election

Only 20 Muslim Brotherhood candidates will be running in Tuesday”s local elections, the group”s deputy chief told AFP, after a widescale government crackdown left many would-be candidates behind bars.

While 498 candidates of the Islamist group managed to register, the electoral commission announced that only 20 Brotherhood members would be running, Mohammed Habib said on Thursday.

The electoral commission could not be reached for confirmation.

Members of the Brotherhood run as independents on voting lists because, while the group is generally tolerated, it is officially banned.

“In a country where neither the constitution nor the law is respected, the (ruling) National Democratic Party can have recourse to all sorts of ridiculous methods,” Habib said.

“The (NDP) knows that if in competition with the Muslim Brotherhood, it would lose,” he said.

Initially the Muslim Brotherhood had intended on fielding 7,754 candidates. The NDP is putting forward 53,000 candidates.

According to Habib, President Hosni Mubarak”s regime fears another success for the Brotherhood, which won 20 percent of seats in 2005 parliamentary elections.

He said 269 members had been detained since the beginning of the month, bringing the number of arrests to 821 in recent weeks.

The New York-based group Human Rights Watch has slammed the roundup as “shameless” and cast serious doubt on the election”s legitimacy.

It said the arrests, combined with ongoing military trials of Islamists, are part of a bid by Mubarak and the NDP to fix the elections.