Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Monitors urge Egypt's election results be annulled

The Associated Press
Monitors urge Egypt's election results be annulled

December 6, 2010

CAIRO (AP) — A coalition of Egyptian rights groups on Monday urged President Hosni Mubarak to nullify the results of the country's parliamentary election because of widespread vote rigging.

Egypt's ruling party is expected to almost completely sweep parliament after the second round of voting, held Sunday. The two top opposition movements boycotted the run-off because of fraud allegations in the first round. Full results are expected Tuesday.

In a statement the Independent Coalition for Elections' Observation said President Hosni Mubarak should use his constitutional powers to dissolve the newly elected parliament.

"Transparency standards were overlooked at the largest scale. Rigging and forging the citizens' will have become the law regulating this election," the groups said.

They also demanded an amendment to Egypt's election law to allow ensure "minimum standards of transparency and fairness" in elections.

Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif on Monday described the election as "the best in Egypt's election history." He promised his government will 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 are for 508 parliament seats. In the first round, the ruling National Democratic Pary swept up almost all the 221 seats that were determined. Mubarak appoints 10 additional lawmakers to the 518-seat body.

The first round of the vote, Nov. 28 and the runoff Sunday 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.

Both the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's largest opposition movement, held a fifth of the outgoing parliament, but didn't win a single seat in the first round. Twenty-seven of its candidates had been slated to contest the runoffs, until the Brotherhood and another key opposition group, the liberal Wafd party, announced they would boycott.

As a result, most of the contests Sunday pitted rival candidates from Mubarak's National Democratic Party against each other, ensuring a parliament almost entirely made up of the ruling party, with a few seats going to independents and smaller parties.

Many Egyptians argue that the outcome will hurt the government's legitimacy as the country heads into a crucial presidential election next year.

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.

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