Egypt's Brotherhood sees mass protest at 'rigged' vote

Brotherhood says it will shift its political struggle to the streets after elections that were "rigged" to ensure the movement was ejected from parliament.

Egypt's Brotherhood sees mass protest at 'rigged' vote

Egypt's opposition Muslim Brotherhood says it will shift its political struggle to the streets after elections that were "rigged" to ensure the movement was ejected from parliament.

Brotherhood leader Mohamed Badie said the group would use peaceful means of dissent against a parliament that he said did not reflect the real strength of Egypt's opposition or the will of voters.

"Absent from parliament...the opposition will take to the streets," Badie told Reuters in an interview.

He said the movement would coordinate with other opposition groups in protests that would be "legal, constitutional and en masse".

President Hosni Mubarak's ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) won 420 of the 508 seats contested in the elections on Nov. 28 and Dec. 5.

The Brotherhood held 86 seats in the previous parliament, giving it a platform to condemn official policy. It pulled out of the elections after winning no seats in the first round.

Officials said the vote was "fair" and any violations "did not undermine the outcome". Rights groups and opposition parties said the result was secured using ballot stuffing, intimidation and dirty tricks.

"These were not elections with rigging. It was rather rigging with a hint of elections," Badie said. "This parliament will distort Egypt's image and will pass legislation that is harmful to Egypt's interests."

Demonstrations are tightly controlled in Egypt where state security acts fast to break up any protest that could threaten public order. Police cordon protestors to prevent marches, making mass protests a challenge for government critics.

Rights groups say an emergency law, in place since 1981, helps the authorities stifle dissent and keep protestors off the streets. The law was extended in May for two more years.

The Brotherhood is officially banned from formal politics under rules that forbid parties based on religious affiliation.

It skirts the ban by fielding candidates as independents and has developed a large grass-roots support base by offering social services and health provision to the poor.

Asked whether civil disobedience was on the Brotherhood's agenda, Badie said the group has yet to study that option but added: "activities will continue to escalate".

Agencies

Last Mod: 23 Aralık 2010, 15:49
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