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Islamists Shut Out in Egypt as Voting Questioned

Dec 1, 2010 – 3:50 PM
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Deborah Hastings

Deborah Hastings Contributor

(Dec. 1) -- Amid widespread reports of fraud and intimidation, Egypt's ruling party swept the first round of parliamentary elections while its main Islamist rival failed to win a single seat.

The Muslim Brotherhood, a popular opposition party among Egypt's 83 million citizens, lost all of its 88 seats in the legislature in Sunday's vote, CNN reported today.

Only 27 of the Brotherhood's candidates qualified for this Sunday's runoff elections, but the group announced today it will boycott that contest, according to CNN. The boycott is a protest against irregularities in the first round of voting, said Mohamed Beltagy of the Brotherhood.

In addition to the Brotherhood losing all of its seats, other opposition parties won only a handful of seats in the 518-seat parliament.

Egypt's High Elections Commission said that President Hosni Mubarak's National Democratic Party had won 209 of 221 parliamentary seats decided in the first round of voting, Bloomberg News reported.

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"The ruling party is declaring itself as the only party in the country," said Abdullah al-Sinawi, an analyst and editor of the opposition Al-Arabi newspaper, according to The Associated Press.

The boycott by the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood, and the secular Wafd party, hurts Egypt's attempts to be seen as a democracy. Independent groups have reported vote-rigging, the AP said, but Egypt's government has defended the election's integrity.

The administration of U.S. President Barack Obama has criticized the voting process, saying there had been "numerous reported irregularities" and "restrictions on basic freedoms."

National Security Council spokesman Mike Hammer called the reports "worrying" and said the United States, a key ally, is "disappointed."
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