Egyp­tians vote in run-off af­ter op­po­si­tion quits

The Pak Banker - - 6international -

CAIRO: Egyp­tians voted Sun­day in a run-off par­lia­men­tary elec­tion which Pres­i­dent Hosni Mubarak's party will win al­most un­chal­lenged af­ter the two biggest op­po­si­tion groups quit a con­test they said was rigged.

The Na­tional Demo­cratic Party (NDP), which has never lost a vote, is sure of a crush­ing vic­tory af­ter the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood and lib­eral Wafd party with­drew. The fiercest run-off races are where NDP can­di­dates are pit­ted against each other.

The Broth­er­hood, the biggest op­po­si­tion group with a fifth of seats in the out­go­ing par­lia­ment, won no seats in the first round. Wafd won two. Egyp­tian mon­i­tors cited bal­lot box stuff­ing, voter in­tim­i­da­tion by hired thugs and other abuses.

"I am boy­cotting these elec­tions. They are a sham, any­one can see that," said Man­sour Ab­del-Fat­tah, 22, a Broth­er­hood sup­porter from the Delta city of Man­soura.

"I ap­plaud the Broth­er­hood's de­ci­sion to boy­cott, of course, Wafd as well," Ab­del-Fat­tah said in Cairo. He said he would not travel home to vote, as he did in the first round.

Of­fi­cials said vot­ing on Novem­ber 28 was fair, and any com­plaints were be­ing checked but did not un­der­mine the vote.

An­a­lysts said the govern­ment wanted to shove Is­lamist and other crit­ics out of the assem­bly to deny them a plat­form be­fore the 2011 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion. That loom­ing vote is fu­elling de­bate about how much longer Mubarak, 82, can stay in power.

"The first round showed the govern­ment was not go­ing to give any space to the op­po­si­tion. The new peo­ple's assem­bly is not for the peo­ple. It is sim­ply an­other NDP com­mit­tee with a sin­gle pur­pose: se­cur­ing pres­i­den­tial suc­ces­sion in the 2011 vote," Wafd party mem­ber Ashraf Bal­baa told Reuters.

Of­fi­cials sug­gest Mubarak, whose health has been un­der close scru­tiny since gall­blad­der surgery in March, will ex­tend his three-decade rule by seek­ing an­other sixyear term, if he can.

If not, many Egyp­tians say his son will run. But an­a­lysts ques­tion whether Ga­mal, 46, has the pop­u­lar­ity among the masses, many in dire poverty, or mil­i­tary sup­port to take over. -Afp

PARIS: France's De­fence and Vet­er­ans Min­is­ter Alain Juppe (C) re­views the troops as he par­tic­i­pates, on De­cem­ber 5, 2010. -Ap

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