Monitors claim fraud, Egypt's ruling party gets big win

The leftist Tagammu party was set to be the biggest opposition bloc in the new 518-seat parliament with just five seats.

Monitors claim fraud, Egypt's ruling party gets big win

President Hosni Mubarak's ruling party has swept to a predictable huge parliamentary win, state media reported on Monday, after an election boycotted by Islamists and liberals in a vote they said was rigged.

The Muslim Brotherhood, which controlled a fifth of seats in the outgoing parliament, quit the race after winning no seats in the Nov. 28 first round. The second biggest opposition group in the last parliament, the liberal Wafd party, also withdrew and left two won seats empty.

The opposition and independent monitors cited ballot box stuffing, voter intimidation and other abuses in both rounds. Sunday's run-offs passed off more quietly, with only the ruling party competed.

Officials said voting in both rounds was fair and complaints would be checked but did not undermine the overall vote.

Analysts said the government wanted to rid parliament of its main critics to ensure a opposition-free presidential vote in 2011.

A question mark hangs over Egypt's future leadership because President Hosni Mubarak, 82, has not said if he will seek re-election and has no obvious successor.

"Five seats for biggest opposition"

The leftist Tagammu party was set to be the biggest opposition bloc in the new 518-seat parliament with just five seats. Party official Abdel Kareem Kassem said Tagammu won four seats in Sunday's run-offs, adding to a seat it won on Nov. 28.

Some Tagammu had pressed its leadership to join the boycott.

After the run-offs, the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) was set to win about 80 percent of seats in the 518 seat parliament, based on official figures from the first round and preliminary run-off results cited by state media.

The NDP controlled about 70 percent in the last parliament.

The state-run al-Akhbar newspaper reported that initial results from the run-offs indicated the ruling party had won 209 seats, adding to the 209 it won in the first round, or 418 seats overall. A state website put the total at 423 seats.

The Brotherhood fields candidates as independents. It said no candidates ran in the run-offs although 26 made it through.

Despite a boycott, the state-run al-Ahram newspaper announced one Brotherhood-backed candidate in a Cairo district, Magdy Ashour, as the winner. The Brotherhood denied he was standing, although he was one of the 26 who reached a run-off.

"He has stuck by the Brotherhood's decision to boycott the second round of the elections which were rigged. We know nothing further," Brotherhood member Mohamed Mursi said, adding that the group was unable to contact Ashour.

Hundreds of Brotherhood members were arrested before the election.

In many run-offs, NDP candidates were competing against fellow party members. The NDP fielded far more candidates than seats, partly in a bid to squeeze the Brotherhood.

"Scuffles"

In a North Sinai district, hundreds of people demonstrated in the street, apparently in protest when their NDP candidate was beaten by rival party member, security sources said.
One security man was wounded and cars were set on fire.

Media reported other scuffles between rival NDP camps in areas of Cairo and the Nile Delta.

In some voting areas, NDP candidates accused party rivals of bribery and hiring thugs to tip the vote.

Rights groups Amnesty International said as many as eight people died in election-related violence in the first round.

A High Elections Commission official said there were four election-related deaths after the first round but no one died on the two voting days.

Alongside Tagammu, a handful of parties won a single seat each in the two rounds. Independents also won some seats.

Parliament will have 518 seats this time, with 508 elected and 10 more appointed by the president. The last parliament had 454 seats. Extra seats were added specifically for women candidates. The last parliament had some women members.

"Fraud in both voting rounds"

Independent observers of Egypt's general election said on Monday that both rounds saw widespread violations, including violence and fraud, that seriously challenge the legitimacy of the new parliament.

"Both rounds of elections witnessed violence in the presence of security which directly resulted in the death of a number of citizens, the exclusion of candidates and their representatives, and attacks" on independent monitors, the Independent Coalition for Elections' Observation said in a statement.

"Polling stations and ballot counting premises have become breeding grounds for forging ballot cards and manipulation of the will of voters... This was especially apparent during the second round," the Egyptian monitoring group added.


Agencies

Last Mod: 06 Aralık 2010, 17:42
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