Tuesday, December 07, 2010
By Agence France Presse (AFP)
Alexander Dziadosz and Yasmine Saleh
CAIRO: President Hosni Mubarak’s ruling party has swept to a predictably huge win in an Egyptian parliamentary election that the opposition denounced as rigged, state media reported Monday.
The Muslim Brotherhood, which controlled a fifth of seats in the outgoing Parliament, boycotted Sunday’s second round after winning no seats in the first stage a week earlier. The second biggest opposition group in the last Parliament, the liberal Wafd party, also withdrew.
Mubarak’s ruling party won 419 of 508 seats in parliamentary polls, the electoral commission said Monday, giving its final results after two rounds of voting.
Trailing far behind Mubarak’s National Democratic Party (NDP) was the opposition with 15 seats, after most boycotted the polls, while independents garnered 70, according to figures released to the media.
The opposition and independent monitors cited ballot box stuffing, voter intimidation and other abuses in both rounds. But Sunday’s run-off passed off quietly, with some of the toughest races in seats where rival candidates from the ruling party were competing against each other.
“The 2010 Parliament is certainly the most illegitimate in recent Egyptian history and no one can take it seriously,” said analyst Shadi Hamid of the Brookings Doha Center.
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 most vocal critics to ensure a trouble-free presidential election in 2011.
President Hosni Mubarak, 82, has not said if he will seek re-election and has no obvious successor.
His NDP was set to win about 80 percent of seats in the 518-member Parliament, based on official figures from the first round and preliminary run-off results cited by state media. The NDP controlled about 70 percent of the last Parliament.
Hamid said most of the non-NDP seats would be taken by independents with links to the ruling party, and the genuine opposition was unlikely to take more than 1 percent of seats.
The leftist Tagammu party was set to be the biggest opposition bloc in the new 518-seat assembly with five seats. A handful of parties won a single seat each in the two rounds.
“The elections were full of widespread violations that brought Egypt at least 15 years back, said Egypt’s Independent Coalition for Elections’ Observation.
It said Mubarak should dissolve the new Parliament and call new elections overseen by an independent judicial body to ensure minimum standards of transparency and fairness.
Although banned by a rule that outlaws religious parties, the Brotherhood fields candidates as independents. It said none of its candidates ran in the run-offs because of the boycott, although 26 had made it through the first round.
Despite the boycott, the state-run al-Ahram newspaper said one of the 26, Magdy Ashour, had won in a Cairo district. The Brotherhood denied he was standing. “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 Mohammad Mursi said, adding that the group was unable to contact Ashour.
Hundreds of Brotherhood members were rounded up before the election as part of a clampdown on the group.
In a North Sinai district, hundreds of people demonstrated in the street, apparently in protest when their NDP candidate was beaten by a rival party member, security sources said. One security man was wounded and cars were set on fire.
Media reported scuffles between rival NDP camps in areas of Cairo and the Nile Delta. In some areas, NDP candidates accused party rivals of bribery and hiring thugs to tip the vote.
Amnesty International said as many as eight people died in election-related violence. 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. – With AFP