Egypt allows only 20 Brothers to run for elections

Only 20 Muslim Brotherhood candidates will be running in Tuesday's local elections, the group's deputy chief said, after a widescale government crackdown left many would-be candidates behind bars.

Egypt allows only 20 Brothers to run for elections
While 498 candidates of the Brotherhood group managed to register, the electoral commission announced that only 20 Brotherhood members would be running, Mohammed Habib said on Thursday.

The electoral commission could not be reached for confirmation.

Members of the Brotherhood run as independents on voting lists because it is officially banned.

"In a country where neither the constitution nor the law is respected, the (ruling) National Democratic Party can have recourse to all sorts of ridiculous methods," Habib said.

"The (NDP) knows that if in competition with the Muslim Brotherhood, it would lose," he said.

Initially the Muslim Brotherhood had intended on fielding 7,754 candidates. The NDP is putting forward 53,000 candidates.

According to Habib, President Hosni Mubarak's regime fears another success for the Brotherhood, which won 20 percent of seats in 2005 parliamentary elections.

He said 269 members had been detained since the beginning of the month, bringing the number of arrests to 821 in recent weeks.

The New York-based group Human Rights Watch has slammed the roundup as "shameless" and cast serious doubt on the election's legitimacy.

It said the arrests, combined with ongoing military trials of Islamists, are part of a bid by Mubarak and the NDP to fix the elections.

An Egyptian security official said that the authorities have detained 255 members of the Brotherhood after widespread protests against a crackdown.

"The men were detained in six different provinces between Tuesday and Wednesday," the official said.

Most were held after demonstrations across the country earlier this week against a clampdown by the authorities in a campaign to block members from running in the April 8 municipal elections.

Nearly 3,000 Muslim Brotherhood members protested in Zagazig, 100 kilometres (60 miles) northeast of Cairo, 2,000 demonstrated in the port city of Alexandria on the Mediterranean, and 1,500 marched at Damanhur in the Nile Delta.

The Brotherhood says the crackdown aims to block another election success after the 2005 parliamentary poll saw the group win a fifth of seats through members standing as independents.

Muslim Brotherhood leaders have said their candidates would contest the elections from jail if necessary.


Agencies
Last Mod: 04 Nisan 2008, 15:43
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