Egypt’s rul­ing party heads to sweep­ing vote win

The Pak Banker - - 6international -

CAIRO: Pres­i­dent Hosni Mubarak's rul­ing party was cruis­ing to a sweep­ing vic­tory af­ter the first round of a par­lia­men­tary elec­tion while Egypt's op­po­si­tion par­ties won just a hand­ful of seats, state me­dia said on Wed­nes­day.

The Mus­lim Broth­er­hood, which con­trolled a fifth of seats in the out­go­ing par­lia­ment, had ear­lier said it won no seats in Sun­day's vote but said 26 can­di­dates were in De­cem­ber 5 run-offs.

The group, which runs can­di­dates as in­de­pen­dents to skirt a ban on re­li­gious par­ties, has said it may now quit the race. An­a­lysts said the govern­ment wanted to push its Is­lamist crit­ics to the mar­gins of for­mal pol­i­tics be­fore next year's pres­i­den­tial race. Mubarak, 82, in power since 1981, has not said if he will run again in 2011.

Rights groups and the op­po­si­tion ac­cused the au­thor­i­ties of bal­lot stuff­ing, bul­ly­ing and other fraud­u­lent tac­tics in the first round. The govern­ment said the vote was fair and any abuses were checked but did not un­der­mine the over­all vote. The White House said it was dis­ap­pointed with the con­duct of Sun­day's vot­ing, cit­ing "wor­ry­ing" prob­lems with re­stric­tions on poll mon­i­tors, the press and on free­dom of speech. The United States is Egypt's ally and a ma­jor aid donor. The High Elec­tions Com­mis­sion, a body of judges and par­lia­ment nom­i­nees which over­saw the vote, pub­lished a list of re­sults for in­di­vid­ual seats on its web­site with­out a break­down.

The state-owned AlAkhbar news­pa­per pub­lished a tally giv­ing the rul­ing Na­tional Demo­cratic Party (NDP) 209 of the 508 seats up for grabs, with 275 NDP can­di­dates run­ning in 283 run-offs.

Run-off votes are held be­tween the top two can­di­dates in seats where no one re­ceived more than 50 per­cent of the vote. In many run-offs, NDP can­di­dates will be pit­ted against each other, guar­an­tee­ing the rul­ing party a seat. The NDP fielded far more can­di­dates than seats, a move a party of­fi­cial said was partly aimed at squeez­ing the Broth­er­hood. Mubarak's govern­ment has long been wary of any group with Is­lamist lean­ings. -Reuters

VI­ENNA: Aus­trian Fi­nance Min­is­ter Josef Proell (L) sits next to Chan­cel­lor Werner Fay­mann (R) as far right Free­dom Party head Heinz-Chris­tian Stra­che delivers his speech dur­ing the first read­ing of the bud­get in the Par­lia­ment. -Reuters

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