Sunday, 4 December 2011

Egypt's Islamists ready to capture parliament

Egyptians cast their votes in first parliamentary elections since the ouster of former leader Hosni Mubarak. (Photo: al-Akhbar - Ali Garboussi)
Published Sunday, December 4, 2011
Islamist parties have taken 60 percent of votes in Egypt's first-round of parliamentary elections, Egypt's High Election Commission announced Sunday.

The Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party won 36.6 percent of nearly a million ballots cast, while the Salafist al-Nour party captured 24.4 percent.

Results also show that the liberal Egyptian Bloc were trailing with 13.4 percent of votes while the Wafd party received 7.1 percent.

The centrist Wasat party was very low with only 4.3 percent.

Sunday's results are only an indication of how the 498-seat Egyptian parliament will look as two more rounds of voting in Egypt's multi-stage election process are scheduled in 2012.

If the Muslim Brotherhood wins the majority of parliamentary seats it is not known if it will form a coalition with other Islamist parties or align themselves with the liberal bloc.

In a recent statement, the Brotherhood denied it wanted to form a parliamentary alliance with the al-Nour party calling assertions otherwise "premature and mere media speculation."

In an interview with the Associated Press Saturday, the deputy leader of the Brotherhood Essam el-Erian said, "We represent a moderate and fair party...we want to apply the basics of Sharia law in a fair way that respects human rights and personal rights."

Some analysts warn against reading too much into only the first part of a parliamentary election that will last until March.

Once the new parliament is in place a 100-member panel is supposed to draft a new constitution, but the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) said in November it may choose up to 80 members of that panel.

SCAF also suggested any new parliament will have no say in naming the new government.
Under deposed leader Hosni Mubarak's 30-year rule the Muslim Brotherhood was often suppressed and banned from taking part in elections, but the party managed to create a network of activists and charities that offered food and medicine to poor neighborhoods and villages throughout Egypt.
(al-Akhbar, AP)
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