Egypt parties threaten poll boycott
Cairo, September 29, 2011
Political parties from across Egypt's political spectrum threatened to boycott elections scheduled to start in November unless the country's military rulers amend the election law.
Parties made their boycott threat in a joint statement as some activists prepared a protest in Cairo for Friday. They hope it will attract thousands of people unhappy with the generals who took over from veteran president Hosni Mubarak when he was forced out by popular protests in February.
But some Islamists, including the powerful Muslim Brotherhood, said they would not protest, giving the army time to respond.
The United States also put pressure on the interim government, saying it hoped Egypt's emergency law -- widely seen as a tool of repression under Mubarak -- would be scrapped sooner than the military foresees next year.
About 60 political parties and groups, including the political wing of the Brotherhood, have set a deadline of Sunday for the military council to meet their demands. These include approving a law that would effectively prevent many of those who supported Mubarak while he was in power from running for office.
Without it, the parties said they would not take part in the elections: "We will boycott 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 now the largest and best organised party in Egypt, since Mubarak's National Democratic Party was dissolved by court order.
The military council said on Tuesday that parliamentary elections would start in stages from November 28, and invited candidates to start registering for the poll from October 12.
Under rules approved by the council, which took over for after Mubarak's overthrow, party lists may compete for two thirds of seats in parliament, to be allocated regionally by proportional representation, while the rest are constituency seats reserved for unaffiliated individual candidates.
Badawi said all the parties had agreed to set the demands in the statement to allow parties to field candidates on both regional party lists and for individual constituency seats. - Reuters