Egypt political parties threaten to poll boycott

Reuters News
Posted: Sep 28, 2011 6:14 PM
Egypt political parties threaten to poll boycott

By Tamim Elyan

CAIRO (Reuters) - The political wing of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood and 59 other parties and groups threatened on Wednesday to boycott elections unless the country's military rulers amend the election law.

The groups, in a joint statement, set a deadline of Sunday for meeting their demands for changes before the elections, which the military has said would begin in November.

The parties want changes that effectively would prevent many supporters of former president Hosni Mubarak, ousted in a popular uprising earlier this year, from running for office, the statement said.

"We will boycott (the elections) if they have not responded positively to our demands by Sunday," Sayyid al-Badawi, the head of the Wafd party, told Reuters.

The Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party is the largest and best organized party in Egypt, since Mubarak's National Democratic Party was dissolved by a court order.

The ruling military council said on Tuesday parliamentary elections will start in stages from November 28, and invited candidates to start registering for the poll from October 12.

Under the election rules approved by the council, which took over for a transitional period after Mubarak was forced to step down on February 11, political parties will compete for two thirds of the upper and lower houses of parliament while the rest will be allocated to individuals.

Badawi said all the parties had agreed to demands in the statement to allow political parties to field candidates on both party lists and for seats allocated to individuals.

They also want the military council to activate a "Treason Law" issued under the late President Gamal Abdel Nasser in the 1950s to fight political corruption and abuse of office.

The government in August revived an amended version of the law, state news agency MENA reported. It was sent to the military council but has yet to be approved.

Under the law, any government official, parliament member or minister may be punished for abuse of power if they, their relatives or acquaintances benefited from any public office they had held.

Egyptian activists said the law would effectively bar many Mubarak loyalists from running for office for another 10 years.

(Reporting by Tamim Elyan, writing by Sami Aboudi; Editing by Michael Roddy)