After 0 wins, Brotherhood considers second-round strategy

Amira Howeidy , Tuesday 30 Nov 2010

Group acknowledges "zero" seats, unsure if they will contest the run-offs


Twenty-six Muslim Brotherhood candidates are expected to run in the second round of elections next Sunday, the group announced in a press conference this afternoon.

The Brotherhood’s supreme guide Mohamed Badie told media representatives that his movement has “yet” to decide on whether or not it will contest the run-offs. The decision will be announced “within hours” he said.

Today's press conference was the first time the group acknowledged it secured “zero” seats in the first round of elections on 28 November, in which it had fielded 130 candidates.

In a hall packed with reporters and dozens of TV cameras, several Brotherhood leaders took to the podium to recount the events of Sunday’s vote as they had witnessed it. Three female Brotherhood candidates who ran in the women’s 64-seat quota gave brief “testimonies” on how the elections were “rigged under the very eyes of judges and security figures".

Badie opened the 80-minute conference that was held in the group’s Manial headquarters with a long "thank you" to the media. “You were the eyes and the witnesses of what happened on Sunday,” he said. “I thank you for spreading the truth and reflecting a picture that can not lie.” He added that turnout of voters supporting Brotherhood candidates was 35% more than the 2005 elections, when the group won 88 seats in parliament.

Addressing the “Egypian nation”, Badie accused the authorities of “falsifying” and “rigging” the “will of the people.” He launched a scathing attack of the regime saying its performance was far from responsible and that it “chose to choose its own interests over the nation’s interests” thus “compromising [Egypt’s] future.”

Sunday’s violations of the law and constitution will “overshadow every election” in the future, he added. Badie vowed to take legal action against “all those who contributed to the rigging of the people’s will” during the elections.

Election day was marred with violence and widespread claims of rigging - evidence of which appeared in several videos that have been broadcast on TV stations and circulated widely on the internet. Footage showed people stuffing ballot boxes, attacking voting stations, and opening and destroying ballot boxes, in some cases by setting them on fire.

Brotherhood MP Mohamed El-Beltagui, from the outgoing parliament, displayed dozens of charred voting cards during the press conference and posed with them as tens of photographers rushed to snap shots.

Another outgoing Brotherhood MP, Saad El-Hosseini, who ran in the Mahala El-Kobra constituency in the Gharbeia governorate in the Nile Delta, said heads of the election committees received bribes of LE1000 ($175) each.

Saad El-Katani, who was head of the Brotherhood’s parliamentary bloc described the elections as a “catastrophe”, orchestrated by the ruling National Democratic Party, the security apparatus, and thugs. “They resorted to all tactics to rig the elections,” he claimed. He said that the rigging largely took place in the constituencies where the MB candidates were doing well. El-Katatni who ran in El-Minya in Upper Egypt said that all the voting cards in his constituency were “marked by the same pen and the same handwriting.”

Suzanne Saad Zaghloul, an MB candidate who ran under the women’s 64-seat quota in Suez, said that a majority of voters in the area voted for her, “but I know that its very difficult for the regime to allow the khemar [long veil that hits above the knee] into the parliament.” She insisted she will not despair “because if the veil was allowed into Turkey’s parliament one day it will be allowed here in Egypt.”

The Brotherhood alone filed 15 cases in court contesting the legitimacy of the elections, according to the group’s lawyer Mukthar El-Ashri. He said that before election day several Egyptian courts issued orders to stop voting in a total of 61 constituencies. On election day, a number of administrative courts also issued verdicts to stop voting in 17 constituencies. Elections went ahead in all of Egypt’s 222 constituencies despite these verdicts.

El-Ashri said that a total of 128 legal complaints were filed before courts by the MB and others.

Asked if the Brotherhood is negotiating a “deal” with the NDP and opposition parties for the run-off elections, member Mohamed Morsi said “we do not engage in such strategies. It's against our policy.”

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