Egypt's blocs brace for upcoming polls

08:10, October 11, 2010      

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Egypt's political parties and groups are gearing up their campaign for a tough battle as the parliamentary elections approach.

Egypt will hold the elections of the People's Assembly (the Lower House of the Parliament) late in November. The ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) and other blocs have begun preparations for the key polls ahead of next year's presidential elections.

Fearing the elections would be rigged, former U.N. nuclear watchdog chief Mohammed ElBaradei called for a boycott, but he has gained little heed as most of the parties in the country have decided to take part, saying participation is the best way to prevent rigging.

The oppositional "Tagammu Party" has announced it will run in the upcoming People's Assembly elections with nine candidates, including four workers and one woman.

The spokesman for Tagammu Party said the party would continue to call on the government to provide guarantees for fair elections and its candidates will continue to campaign in constituencies all over the country.

Egypt's oldest liberal party of Al-Wafd announced last month it would participate in the polls after a general assembly vote inside the party saw 504 members in favour of participation compared with 407 against.

El-Sayyed El-Badawi, chief of Al-Wafd, said his party would be a strong rival to the NDP which dominates the parliamentary seats. He added that Al-Wafd is to launch a massive media campaign to support its candidates.

Al-Wafd Party as well as other opposition parties have been calling for judicial supervision of the entire election process to ensure fair elections.

"We will run for elections with about 145 candidates. We hope to have more seats than before," Yasser Hassan, a member of elections committee of Al-Wafd, told Xinhua.

"The coming elections will be tougher than the previous one with an estimated high turnout," Hassan said.

On Saturday, Mohamed Badie, general guide of the banned Muslim Brotherhood group, announced plans to run for the election.

The group will compete for about 30 percent of the next 518- seat parliament, Badie told a press conference in Cairo. The names of its candidates are to be announced before Oct. 19, he added.

Compared with various opposition parties such as Al-Wafd, Al- Karamah, Al-Tagamm and the Nasserites, the Muslim Brotherhood is widely considered the major opposition group against the ruling party. The banned group occupies 88 seats out of 454 in the current People's Assembly.

Egypt's Higher Commission for Elections said it had completed all measures for the legislative elections, stressing the elections will be held in a "transparent, unbiased" atmosphere.

Some opposition blocs have reportedly warned if the government ended up maneuvering the voting there would be serious violence.

However, Egypt's Interior Minister Habib al-Adly said he expected the upcoming parliamentary elections to be "heated," warning that the authorities would be tough on anyone who stepped outside the law.

On Saturday, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Michael H. Posner, said that the U.S. administration has urged the Egyptian government to have the elections supervised by domestic and international monitors.

He added that the U.S. administration is concerned about the enforcement of the emergency law in Egypt, as well as sectarian tensions, with legislative elections coming close.

However, Egypt's state-run human rights watchdog rejected any kind of foreign monitoring of the parliamentary elections, saying that such monitoring would harm Egyptian sovereignty.

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has urged local governors to take "all necessary steps" to guarantee fair and free elections.

Source: Xinhua


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