x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Brotherhood win no seats in first round of Egypt vote

The Muslim Brotherhood claims just seven seats on eve of official result, whilst claiming election 'forging'.

Independent election monitors document a list of irregularities in procedures, including the shuttering of polling stations before the scheduled closing time.
Independent election monitors document a list of irregularities in procedures, including the shuttering of polling stations before the scheduled closing time.

CAIRO // The Muslim Brotherhood did not win a single parliamentary seat in the first round of voting, the leadership of the banned Islamist opposition group admitted yesterday, reflecting what it called a "massive forging" of the vote.

Official results of Egypt's elections on Sunday for 508 seats in the People's Assembly, the lower and more powerful house of parliament, were due to be released early today.

Preliminary data yesterday also showed the second most powerful opposition movement, the secular New Wafd party, holding only seven seats and levelling accusations of fraud, a party spokesman said.

The results, which were also questioned by independent election monitoring bodies, consolidate control of parliament in the hands of the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) in time for the presidential election next year and strip the Brotherhood of most of its 88 seats.

The NDP had succeeded in fully sidelining the Brotherhood, said Emad Gad, an analyst at Al Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies, a government-funded think tank in Cairo.

A second round of voting next Sunday, for districts in which a single candidate did not win a simple majority, could see the Brotherhood win a few seats, he said.

But the NDP will try to steer additional seats it cannot win to the Wafd or Tagammu, another secular opposition party, he predicted.

"The government is planning to exclude most of the Muslim Brotherhood from the next parliament, and I think they will succeed after reaching deals with Al Wafd and Tagammu," he said. "I think that in order to avoid any critique of what happened [in the election], they must make deals with the opposition parties."

He predicted the Brotherhood would end up with less than 10 seats, with Wafd and Tagammu each holding at least 15.

Wafiq al Ghitanyes, a Wafd party general co-ordinator and head of the operation chamber during the elections, denied suggestions that the party had struck a deal with NDP to replace the Muslim Brotherhood in parliament.

"If there is such a deal we would have won more than 80 seats, but no deals happened with the NDP or the Muslim Brotherhood," he said.

The Wafd party was waiting on the results of 27 committees, he said, but expected at least five candidates would run in the second round.

"[President] Hosni Mubarak promised to have fair elections, but that did not happen," Mr al Ghitanyes said. "Fraud is very strong, violence is very fierce, there were security transgressions and forging of the ballots - even some dead persons were on the voting lists."

The High Elections Commission, a panel appointed by the government to supervise the elections, has not delivered a verdict on the fairness of the poll, but said midday Sunday that the election was "proceeding in an orderly fashion".

Independent election monitors documented a list of irregularities, including the shuttering of polling stations before the scheduled closing time, the stuffing of ballot boxes, and episodes of violence and intimidation inside and outside the voting sites. Muslim Brotherhood incumbents were direct victims of those irregularities, said Saad al Katatni, the head of the group's parliamentarian caucus or "mess".

The Brotherhood will run in at least 14 races in the second round, the group said yesterday on its website.

"It is impossible that the Brotherhood, which has 135 candidates, many of whom are already parliamentarians, does not win a single seat," Mr Katatni said. "This reveals that the ruling regime is giving the message that it doesn't respect the will of the people and needs a parliament completely different than the last one."

cstanton@thenational.ae

* With additional reporting by Matt Bradley in Cairo