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NDP, Muslim Brotherhood Face Off in Egypt’s Run-offs
NDP, Muslim Brotherhood Face Off in Egypt’s Run-offs
Amid complaints of widespread irregularities and legal rulings annulling some results, Egyptians started voting Tuesday, November 15, in runoffs for the first phase of parliamentary elections in which the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) is expected to continue its push against President Hosni Mubarak's ruling party.
Tuesday, November 15,2005 00:00
by Islam online,

NDP, Muslim Brotherhood Face Off in Egypt’s Run-offs

 
(IslamOnline.net & News Agencies) – Amid complaints of widespread irregularities and legal rulings annulling some results, Egyptians started voting Tuesday, November 15, in runoffs for the first phase of parliamentary elections in which the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) is expected to continue its push against President Hosni Mubarak’s ruling party.

Electoral commission spokesman Faruq Awad confirmed that polling stations opened Tuesday for runoffs over the 133 out of 164 seats that were not decided last week, according to Agence France-Presse (AFP).

The first round saw the victories of 26 National Democratic Party (NDP) candidates, four Muslim Brothers and one independent.

According to official results, a quarter of the 11-million electorate voted on November 9 during a polling process which opposition parties and non-governmental organizations said was marred by widespread irregularities.

266 candidates are fighting for the 133 seats up for grabs Tuesday. Of these 97 are NDP candidates, 120 independents and 42 Muslim Brotherhood candidates, out of a total of 51 candidates for the group in the first round, making the group’s performance unexpectedly stunning.

The opposition coalition including the Kefaya (Enough) movement, the Marxist Tagammu, the Nasserists and the liberal Wafd failed to secure a seat in the first round, with only 7 candidates trying their luck again Tuesday.

Egypt’s parliamentary polls are spread out over three successive phases. The first round of the first stage was held November 9 in eight governorates, including Cairo.

The ruling party controls 404 out of parliament’s 454 seats, but the Muslim Brothers have conducted an aggressive campaign which they hope will help them at least treble their current seat tally of 15, making them the main opposition block in the coming parliament, according to observers.

According to the Egyptian press, NDP members who ran as independents were brought back into the fold before the run-offs in constituencies where the ruling party’s official candidates made poor first round showings.

Results Annulled

 

 
Further complicating matters, the results announced in three of the 82 constituencies involved in the first round were annulled Sunday and will therefore lead to re-runs.

Egypt’s administrative judicial court Sunday annulled parliamentary polls convened in three electoral districts in the greater Cairo area and ordered new polls in these areas.

The court also canceled run-off votes scheduled for Tuesday in Waeli, Manshiyet Al-Qanatir, Omrania and Bulaq Daqrur and ruled that all the candidates who participated in these districts compete again.

It argued that many of the candidates had ignored an order by the court to change their status and insisted on running as laborers or farmers, although they did not qualify.

The Egyptian constitution reserves 50 percent of the seats in parliament for laborers or farmers.

According to Al-Jazeera Tuesday, however, a spokesman for the electoral commission ruled out implementing the court ruling, insisting results were final.

Independent monitors, opposition candidates and judges said that besides the corruption which characterizes parliamentary campaigns, irregularities included falsified voter registries and ballot-stuffing during the counting process.

Scores of NGOs who were allowed to monitor the polling process acknowledged widespread fraud but praised the state security forces for adopting a low profile and reported no major violence.

Women

Amal Osman, one of only six women out of the 444 candidates fielded by the NDP, was the only woman to secure her seat in the first round.

Makaram Al-Deiri, the only female candidate running for the Muslim Brotherhood, is involved in a close run-off in Cairo’s Nasr City constituency.

Mona Makram Ebeid, the only Coptic woman running in the elections, charged that she had lost in the first round due to cheating by her NDP rival.

"I saw illiterate voters being paid in the street," she told AFP. "The practices will end up drawing a lot of sympathy towards the Muslim Brothers."

Salama Ahmed Salama, an editorialist for the top-selling state-owned Al-Ahram daily, lashed out at both NDP tactics and the Muslim Brotherhood’s slogan "Islam is the solution".

"The authorities took hardly any action to prevent voters from being swayed by cash or faith exploited by candidates who were in a race for parliamentary seats and the legal immunity it guarantees," he said.

tags: parlimentary elections / Democracy / politics / Egypt / parliament / opposition / freedom / NDP / rigged elections
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