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Egyptian opposition leader Mohammed El-Baradaei
© EC/afrol News

Opposition to boycott another Egypt election?

Egypt's President Mohammed Morsi

© FJP/afrol News
afrol News, 25 February
- Political parties opposing Egypt's President Mohammed Morsi consider boycotting also the upcoming parliamentary poll, claiming they are prone to be manipulated by the Muslim Brotherhood. But there is little to indicate this may happen.

This weekend, opposition leader Mohammed El-Baradei called for a boycott of the upcoming parliamentary elections in Egypt. Mr El-Baradei made his announcement on Twitter, saying the opposition should not let itself to be abused to legitimise a "sham democracy". The Nobel Peace Prize laureate compared the upcoming poll to the last elections under toppled President Hosni Mubarak, when he also had called for a boycott.

The call by Mr El-Baradei comes only days after President Mursi issued a decree for parliamentary elections to be held in Egypt in the end of April. The polls are to be held in four stages, starting 22 April. The last parliamentary elections in the country were held in 2011-12, but the Egyptian Constitutional Court in June last year ruled that the election was void due to the use on an unconstitutional Electoral Code.

Mr El-Baradei is among the top figures of the opposition National Salvation Front, an alliance gathering 35 secular parties of the political left and centre. The opposition leader however is more known abroad than in Egypt, and the many parties of the Alliance only have 110 out of 508 seats in the current parliament.

It could seem as if Mr El-Baradei had not discussed his appeal with the parties of the opposition alliance. The Salvation Front thus far has indicated it will participate in the spring vote, and its spokesman, Khaled Dawoud, indicated that the parties would meet to discuss the boycott proposal today or tomorrow.

But also Mr Dawoud expressed considerable scepticism towards the upcoming poll. The parties of the secular alliance were concerned by the possibilities President Morsi and the Islamist government would have to manipulate the voting process, as ex-President Mubarak had done before him. He insisted that the opposition would like guarantees from Mr Morsi that that would not happen.

Omar Ashour, who heads the Mid-East studies at the University of Exeter in Britain, is disappointed by the boycott calls from Mr Al-Baradei. The scholar insists that all the elections held since the overthrow of Mr Mubarak have been clean elections and he believes the upcoming vote will be as well.

"Probably the [opposition, which] has consistently lost in the last four elections, wants to spoil the game," he said. "They don't see a way to power via elections, so their only way is either to boycott or to undermine the whole electoral process."

Mr Ashour argues that the Egyptian judiciary, which he says is "not friends with the Muslim Brotherhood," and international monitors will oversee the parliamentary elections, indicating that the vote will in fact be fair.

At the last elections, the party alliance led by the Muslim Brotherhood got 37.5 percent of the popular vote, giving it 45 percent of parliamentary seats. Additionally, the radical Islamic Salafist coalition got 27.8 percent of the votes and 25 of the Cairo parliament seats. Most of the remaining seats went to a total of 15 secular parties.

Parts of this article were delivered by 'VoA'.

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