Global media are reporting that the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood is boycotting parliamentary runoff elections, accusing the ruling government of widespread fraud after failing to win any seats in the first round. According to an AP report:
Egypt’s top two opposition movements on Wednesday pulled out of parliamentary elections, citing widespread fraud, after they were all but shut out in a first round of voting. The move by the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood — the strongest opposition force in the country — and the smaller, secular liberal Wafd party is a blow to this top U.S. ally’s efforts to portray itself as a democracy. Egypt’s government has staunchly defended the fairness of last Sunday’s election, despite reports by independent rights groups of blatant rigging in favour of the ruling party. The result will likely be a 518-seat parliament almost entirely made up of the ruling National Democratic Party, with a few seats going to independents and smaller parties. “The ruling party is declaring itself as the only party in the country,” said Abdullah al-Sinawi, a prominent analyst and editor of the opposition Al-Arabi newspaper. “There is now a widespread sentiment that there is no use in trying to get this regime to reform,” he said. “The windows of hope have been slammed shut because the next parliament will have no opposition and the regime will have no legitimacy.” The government was widely seen as determined to purge the Brotherhood from the legislature — particularly at a time when presidential elections are due next year and there are questions over the future of the country’s leadership, after 82-year-old President Hosni Mubarak underwent surgery earlier this year. The movement, which is banned but runs candidates as independents, came under a heavy crackdown ahead of the vote, with some 1,400 of its activists arrested during the campaign. The Brotherhood held 88 seats in the outgoing parliament — a fifth of its seats. But results announced late Tuesday showed not a single candidate from its ranks won a seat in the first round. Twenty-six Brotherhood candidates made it into the runoff. Those 26 will pull out and the Brotherhood will boycott the runoff, the movement announced on its website Wednesday. What happened has shown that the regime is a usurper of power and a forger of the will of the nation and is continuing on the path of corruption and tyranny. By not participating in the runoff round we are declaring our protest,” the Brotherhood said in a statement. The Wafd party, which had six seats in the outgoing parliament, also announced its withdrawal from the runoff because of “fraud and thuggery” during the first round….Only the Brotherhood is seen as well organized around the nation, and enjoys popularity because of the many social services it provides. It stunned the government in the last parliamentary election, in 2005, when it won its 88 seats — the most ever, and since then thousands of its members have been arrested in successive crackdowns. “It is logical that the regime wanted to wipe us out,” said Sobhi Saleh, a Brotherhood candidate who ran for one of the 22 seats in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria but lost. Official results of the Nov. 28 vote announced late Tuesday gave the ruling NDP 209 of the 508 seats up for grabs in the election. Another 10 seats will be appointed by the president. Non-Brotherhood independents took seven seats and recognized parties other than the Wafd won three. The runoff will determine the remaining 57 per cent seats. There had been considerable internal debate within the Brotherhood whether to participate in the parliamentary vote from the start. Also, Nobel peace laureate Mohammed ElBaradei — who has emerged as a prominent symbol for the reform movement — had called for a boycott, arguing that participating in a vote that was widely expected to be rigged only gives legitimacy to the regime. In the end, however, the Brotherhood and opposition parties decided to contest the race. The ruling party’s main goal seemed to be to ensure that the Brotherhood or any other group could not use parliament as a platform for dissent amid the uncertainty over the country’s future.
A previous post discussed the background to the government’s campaign against the Egyptian Brotherhood.
The Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood can be considered to be the “mother” organization of what is referred to in these pages as the Global Muslim Brotherhood which developed as Muslim Brothers fleeing Egypt settled in Europe and the United States, as well as other places, throughout the years. The global network has since eclipsed the Egyptian organization as evidenced by global Brotherhood leader Youssef Qaradawi’s decision to turn down the leadership of the Egyptian organization when it was offered to him in 2004.