Egypt arrests 36 from Brotherhood as vote nears

Security forces detained at least 36 members of the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's strongest opposition group, on Monday, including some likely candidates in local elections next month.

Egypt arrests 36 from Brotherhood as vote nears
Security sources said 36 people had been detained in dawn arrests raids on homes across six provinces. Many were from the Nile Delta, where the Brotherhood has a strong popular base.

The Muslim Brotherhood put the total number of arrests at 41. The men were accused of belonging to a "banned group", possessing anti-government literature and organising unauthorised meetings, security sources said.

Egypt has arrested more than 230 members of the Islamist group since mid-February, taking the total number in detention to well over 550.

A Brotherhood spokesman said those detained on Monday include activists and likely candidates in the April 8 local elections, though he declined to say exactly how many were planning to stand.

"They are arresting anyone who wants to be a candidate," he said.

The Brotherhood seeks an Islamic state through democratic means. It holds a fifth of the seats in the lower house of parliament through members elected as independents to circumvent a decades-old ban.

Egypt postponed local council elections for two years in 2006 after the Brotherhood performed better than expected in a parliamentary election in 2005.

Seats on local councils could be important to the Brotherhood on a national level if it wants to field an independent candidate for the presidency in the future.

Independent candidates for the presidency need endorsements from 140 members of local councils to run, in addition to votes from the upper and lower houses of parliament.

Reuters
Last Mod: 03 Mart 2008, 15:01
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