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EGYPT: Another one-sided election

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There was not much excitement or political guessing today as Egyptians went to the polls to vote for their municipal representatives. The outcome is pretty much a forgone conclusion. President Hosni Mubarak’s ruling National Democratic Party is expected to win about 90% of the seats after candidates from the Muslim Brotherhood, the country’s largest opposition group, were barred from running.

Mubarak’s regime arrested hundreds of Muslim Brotherhood members and allowed only 20 of the group’s activists to campaign for the 52,000 seats up for grabs. The government feared that the Islamist organization might chalk up a significant victory like it did in the 2005 legislative elections, when the brotherhood won 20% of the seats.

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The Muslim Brotherhood has called for a boycott of this election, and preliminary reports indicate a low turnout. Arab TV is reporting that independent observers and voters have been blocked by security forces from reaching some polling places. Voting comes two days after riots erupted in Delta province town of Mahalla, where police aborted a strike by thousands of textile workers. Egyptians have been growing steadily angry at low wages, rising inflation and bread lines.

— Noha El-Hennawy in Cairo


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