Latest update: 07/12/2010
Ruling party sweep to victory amid fraud allegations
President Hosni Mubarak has been re-elected to the top job after his ruling party swept to a huge win in the second round of Egypt’s parliamentary elections. However, both major opposition parties boycotted the elections amid allegations of fraud.
By News Wires (text)
AP – Egypt’s ruling party won a sweeping victory in parliamentary elections, according to results released Monday, after a final round of voting boycotted by the two main opposition groups in protest of what they said was massive vote-rigging.
Hours before the results were even announced, a coalition of Egyptian rights groups alleging fraud demanded that President Hosni Mubarak annul the elections use his constitutional powers to dissolve the newly elected parliament.
The outcome leaves Mubarak’s National Democratic Party in firm control of the new parliament and its main rivals in the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood completely shut out, as the country gears up for a crucial presidential vote next year.
The security forces carried out a heavy crackdown on the Brotherhood before the vote, rounding up 1,400 supporters. The Brotherhood decided to boycott Sunday’s runoffs after if failed to win a single seat in a first round it said was marred by irregularities.
The group stunned the ruling party in the last elections, in 2005, by winning 20 percent of parliament’s seats.
This time, Mubarak’s party won 83 percent of the seats, according to Monday’s final results. If dozens of elected independent candidates join ranks with the NDP, as is expected, the ruling party could control 96 percent of the legislature.
The Brotherhood vowed to continue legal challenges against the results.
“The new parliament has no legitimacy and it must be dissolved,” said Brotherhood spokesman Mohammed Morsi. “These polls scandalized the ruling regime while giving a boast to our legitimacy and popularity.”
Along with the Brotherhood, the other main opposition party, the Wafd, also pulled out after the first round on Nov. 28, in which it won just two seats. Four of its candidates violated the party’s boycott and won in runoffs, giving the party a total of six seats - the same standing it had in the outgoing parliament. The Wafd, however, has said it will expel the candidates who violated the boycott.
A group of rights organizations called The Independent Coalition for Elections Observation called on Mubarak to nullify the elections and use his constitutional powers to dissolve the newly elected parliament.
“Transparency standards were overlooked on the largest scale. Rigging and forging the citizens’ will have become the law regulating this election,” the groups said.
Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif on Monday described the election as “the best in Egypt’s election history.” He promised his government would investigate fraud allegations, but election officials say the few reports of violations have been dealt with and had no effect on the results.
The two rounds of voting were for 508 parliament seats. Mubarak appoints 10 additional lawmakers to the 518-seat body. Four seats are still undecided, after the election commission said those votes were compromised by irregularities.
The two rounds of voting were marred by reports of armed clashes in the north and south, along with reports of vote-buying and ballot box stuffing in many areas.
Many Egyptians argue the outcome will hurt the government’s legitimacy as the country heads into next year’s presidential election.
The 82-year-old Mubarak has had health concerns, undergoing gall bladder surgery earlier this year. He is believed to be grooming his son Gamal to succeed him. But there is widespread public opposition to the “inheritance” of power, and Mubarak could still decide to run again in next year’s election.
After the first round, the Obama administration said it was disappointed by widespread reports of irregularities that cast doubt on the credibility of the polls in the strong U.S. ally. Cairo rejected the criticism of its handling of elections as unacceptable interference in the country’s affairs and refused to allow foreign observers to monitor the poll.
On Monday, State Department spokeswoman Megan Mattson said Egyptians can gain full confidence in their country’s electoral process “only when the government is able to address existing laws and ensure full and transparent access by independent civil society monitors and candidate representatives.”
Mattson urged the higher electoral commission in Egypt “to undertake investigations into alleged election violations.”
“We hope that all necessary improvements will be made swiftly to ensure that future elections are free and fair,” she said.