Egypt election crisis

Elections in Egypt are heading for
a crisis with opposition parties pulling out of a run-off vote, accusing the
government of massive electoral fraud.

The Muslim Brotherhood, which held
a fifth of seats in the outgoing parliament, has said it will not run in this
weekend’s second round of voting after winning no seats in round one.

The group put up candidates as
independents to avoid a ban on religious parties but 1,200 of its members were
jailed ahead of the election.

It accused President Hosni
Mubarak’s regime of rigging the elections in favour of its ruling party.

The country’s oldest opposition
party has also decided not to run in this weekend’s vote.

The liberal Wafd Party said it was
withdrawing because of “fraud and thuggery” during the first round.

A statement from the party’s top
committee said the election was marred by forgery and violence, and described
the process as “scandalous”.

Ruling party candidates won
overwhelmingly during the opening round, with only a few seats going to the
opposition.

This was in stark contrast with
elections five years ago.

Then, candidates loyal to the
Muslim Brotherhood stunned the country’s government by taking control of a
fifth of the parliament.

Human rights activists and other
observers have said the Mubarak government was determined not to let the group
repeat its successes ahead of a potential presidential election next year.

The government refused to allow
international observers to monitor these latest elections.

But international wires agencies
and others reported widespread abuses including police intimidation, the use of
rentavote mobs and ballot box stuffing.

The country now faces a political
crisis with the second round of voting not being contested by opposition
parties.

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