One of Egypt’s main opposition
parties is sticking by its move to pull out of upcoming run-off elections
despite violent internal disagreements over the decision.
“We will withdraw from the
elections because we want to stand with the people and not with a fraudulent
parliament,” said party leader Al-Sayed al-Badawi, after hours of closed
door deliberations with party leaders.
Egypt’s oldest party, the Wafd has
seen its popularity decline dramatically over the years amid accusations it has
become too close to the government. Pulling out of elections damages the
legitimacy of the contests meant to showcase the country’s democracy and was an
uncharacteristically bold move for the party.
“I wanted the Wafd to boycott
the election because the rigging we saw this time has been unprecedented in the
history of Egypt,” said Tareq Younis who ran under the Wafd ballot in a
suburb of Cairo. “If we stay in the election then we give legitimacy to
the theater the government has put us through.”
Opponents of the pullout, however,
said the party was abandoning its supporters by quitting elections.
Two members of the party won
outright and nine others were going contest the run-offs. The more than 200
other seats decided in the first round went almost entirely to the ruling
Egypt’s strongest opposition
movement, the Muslim Brotherhood, also pulled out of the second round of voting
after criticizing the fraud in last week’s contests.
The result will now most likely be
a 518-seat parliament made up almost entirely of the ruling National Democratic
Party, with a few seats going to independents and smaller parties.
The new parliament will play role
in next year’s key presidential election and most observers say the government
wanted a pliant legislative body