Sunday, November 14, 2010

Egyptian rights groups say fair election unlikely

Agence France Presse
Egypt rights groups say fair Nov. election unlikely

9 November 2010

(AFP) CAIRO — A coalition of Egyptian rights groups said on Tuesday that a government crackdown on opposition candidates will prevent a fair parliamentary election later this month.

The Forum of Independent Human Rights Organisations charged in a press conference that violations in the poll, which will be held on November 28, “started early for these elections.”

Gamal Eid, the director of the Arab Network for Human Rights Information, noted in particular the broad powers granted to the interior ministry and “restrictions on independent candidates belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood and those who splintered from the National Democratic Party.”

The Brotherhood, the country’s largest opposition movement, is fielding 134 candidates, registering them as independents to get around a ban on religious parties. The ruling NDP is running about 800 candidates for the 508 seats.

“This climate cannot lead to a fair and free election,” said Magdi Abdel Hamid, the director of the Egyptian Association for Community Participation Enhancement.

Bahieddine Hassan, director of the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, said there was a climate of “terror” in the media after the dismissal of an opposition newspaper editor and the suspension of several satellite stations.

“It is a farce rather than a legislative election,” he said.

The Muslim Brotherhood, which controls a fifth of parliament, has accused the government of arresting dozens of its members since it announced it would run for election.

The last election in 2005 was marred by violence and allegations of fraud by judges who supervised the ballot count.

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