Da The Daily Star del 28/11/2005
Originale su http://www.dailystar.com.lb/article.asp?edition_id=10&categ_id=2&a...

New big gains for Egypt's Brotherhood

The Muslim Brotherhood built its strength in Egypt's parliament this weekend, winning 29 more seats in elections despite restrictions on voting and arrests of its supporters, official results showed on Sunday.

The Higher Election Committee said final results showed 115 candidates won seats in Saturday's run-offs from round two of the second phase of the polling: 75 for the ruling National Democratic Party; 38 for independents; and two for the New Wafd opposition party. Judges stopped the elections in three constituencies for irregularities.

Senior Brotherhood official Ali Abdel-Fattah said on Sunday that 29 of the winning independents were members of the group. Polling took place in the second city of Alexandria and other Islamist strongholds in the Nile Delta.

The Islamist group has now won 76 seats - more than five times the number it held in the outgoing chamber. About a third of Parliament's 444 elected places have still to be decided.

The voting also confirmed the demise of the secular opposition, with the defeat of the former leader of the Marxist Tagammu Party, Khaled Mohieddine - one of the last two surviving Free Officers who led the 1952 revolution.

With the third phase of the elections still to come on Thursday, the NDP's dominance is not at risk but it will for the first time face a substantial opposition bloc in Parliament.

Brotherhood leader Mohammad Mehdi Akef credited public mistrust, frustration and anger with President Hosni Mubarak's regime for the group's gains.

In an interview with the Associated Press, Akef said: "People are outraged by the performance of this government and its ruling party. Both have fed people nothing but bitterness," he said.

He also sought to allay Western concerns about the organization's newfound strength, saying it would not try to change Egypt's foreign policy, including its peace treaty with Israel.

"We do not recognize Israel, but we will not fight it. We will respect all the treaties [which Egypt signed with Israel]," said Akef, whose organization is considered the mother group for many Islamic movements such as Hamas.

Asked if the organization would try to prevent Hamas from making peace with Israel, Akef said: "We have nothing to do with Palestinian internal politics," he said.

On Saturday, Egypt's judges, supervising the polling process, accused the government of trying to prevent voters from casting their ballots and seeking to forge results.

"Polling stations were sealed off and voters were prevented from casting their ballots. Police refused to obey the orders of the polling station officials who demanded that people be allowed to vote," the judges' syndicate said in a statement.

It also accused the Interior Ministry of modifying electoral registers in a bid to prevent Egyptians from voting and called on its members to demand re-runs where needed.

In reaction, the pro-government Supreme Judicial Council demanded the judges' prosecution for "interfering in politics."

Judges should "refrain from appearing on satellite channels commenting on political elections and claiming the process to be fraud" or face investigation, a council statement said.

Outside some polling stations, armed backers of both Islamist and secular politicians engaged in fierce clashes.

Abdel-Fattah said police arrested 680 Brotherhood members and supporters nationwide on Saturday.

Many Egyptians fear that the Brotherhood was simply using the political system as a means to gain power before abolishing any trace of democracy.

"We respect all freedoms and believe in rotating power and in the ballot boxes, now and for all," Akef told AP by way of answering those fears.

He said the group's parliamentary bloc would focus on a constitutional amendment to limit the president to two terms and new legislation that would remove bans on formation of political parties.

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