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Monday, October 11, 2010     GET REAL

Muslim Brotherhood slogan in Egypt elections: 'Islam is the solution'

CAIRO — The Islamic opposition intends to expand its participation in Egypt's parliamentary elections.


The Brotherhood said it would field 169 candidates for the 508 seats of the National Assembly in elections scheduled for November 2010. In the last elections for parliament, in 2005, the Islamic opposition ran 165 candidates.

"We ask all Egyptians to stand firm against any attempt to rig the elections, and we call on the government to ensure a fair election," Brotherhood supreme guide Mohammed Badie said.

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At a news conference on Oct. 9, the Brotherhood, with 88 seats, rejected calls that the Islamic opposition boycott parliamentary elections amid the crackdown by the regime of President Hosni Mubarak. Hundreds of Brotherhood operatives, including senior members, have been arrested over the last year as part of a regime effort to block any opposition campaign.

"The Muslim Brotherhood is a large group, and if we wanted to compete for the biggest number of seats we could have," Brotherhood parliamentary whip Mohammed Katatni said. "But we see that the regime opposes the Brotherhood, and this causes political uncertainty, which we want to avoid in the forthcoming period."

Western allies of Egypt have offered to help monitor parliamentary elections. The United States has called for a team of Egyptian and international observers as well as the suspension of emergency law.

Badie said the Brotherhood would announce a final list of candidates, which would include up to 15 women, over the next few weeks. He acknowledged that the Brotherhood had debated whether to participate in parliamentary elections amid the regime crackdown. The movement's chief slogan, he said, would be "Islam is the solution."

"We call on the ruling regime to show the maximum degree of responsibility in administering the election process and to realize that any mistakes that ruin these parliamentary elections will overshadow every future election," Badie said.

The Brotherhood decision came despite a call by another leading opposition figure to boycott the elections. Former International Atomic Energy Agency director-general Mohammed El Baradei, regarded as the leading secular rival to Mubarak, said the prospects of free elections were more dismal today than in 2005.

"We are participating for Egypt's sake," Brotherhood spokesman Issam Erian said.

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