Latest update: 12/12/2010
- Egypt - elections - fraud - Hosni Mubarak
Mubarak bemoans opposition parties’ election boycott
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has criticised opposition groups for boycotting last week’s legislative elections, which secured his party a firmer grip on power but were marred by allegations of widespread vote-rigging.
By News Wires (text)
AFP – Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on Sunday bemoaned the opposition boycott of this year's legislative elections, saying he would have preferred all parties to have done as well as possible.
"I am happy, as party leader, at the success of our candidates," he said, referring to the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) which secured 420 of 508 parliamentary seats in the polls on November 28 and December 5.
"But as president of Egypt I would have preferred that the other parties (opposition) had obtained their best results," Mubarak told NPD MPs in a speech broadcast on state television.
The powerful opposition Muslim Brotherhood, which won a fifth of seats in parliament in the 2005 election, boycotted the second round of the election, alleging fraud after it failed to win a single seat outright.
Independents garnered 70 seats while the opposition trailed far behind with 14 seats, six going to the liberal Wafd party which also announced a boycott of the second round.
"I would have preferred the (opposition parties) not to have wasted their efforts in arguing for a boycott of the elections, then taking part, then some later announcing a withdrawal and questioning the results of the election," Mubarak said.
"I urge the NDP and the other parties to examine closely the lessons of these elections, the positives and the negatives, and to support pluralism," he said, adding that the "large majority gained by the NPD also brings... an enormous responsibility."
Meanwhile, media reports said Mubarak had named seven Copts from Egypt's minority Christian community among 10 MPs he appointed to the new parliament.
The president on Saturday issued a decree, in line with the constitution, to appoint 10 more lawmakers, including seven Copts and a woman, for a total of 518 seats in parliament, media reports said.
Analysts have said the results of the poll have damaged the credibility of the NPD but allowed the party to tighten its grip on parliament ahead of the 2011 presidential election.
About 200 demonstrators rallied outside the Supreme Court in central Cairo on Sunday to denounce the newly elected parliament, which they chanted was "null and void."
George Ishak, a protest organiser, said dissidents intended to legally challenge parliament's legitimacy.
It is widely believed within Egypt that the 82-year-old incumbent president, who has ruled for 29 years, wants to pass on the baton to his 47-year-old son Gamal Mubarak, a banker who has been pushing for liberal economic reforms.
But in a secret diplomatic cable published on the WikiLeaks website, the US embassy in Cairo reported that Mubarak is likely to seek re-election next year and serve for the rest of his life.
The cable, sent in May 2009, says: "The next presidential elections are scheduled for 2011, and if Mubarak is still alive it is likely he will run again, and, inevitably, win."
One prominent commentator, Amr al-Shobaki of the Al-Ahram Centre for Strategic Studies, has said the new parliament "was tailor-made" to play with the ruling party's plans for the presidential poll.
Egyptian opposition figure Mohamed ElBaradei warned on Wednesday activists could resort to violence unless there are political reforms, as he called for a boycott of the presidential election and dismissed the legislative polls as a "farce."