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Egypt's ruling party wins clear majority in parliament

Tuesday December 07, 2010 11:14:08 AM, DPA

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Cairo: Egypt's ruling party won a clear majority in parliamentary elections, as monitors called on President Hosni Mubarak to dissolve the new parliament due to reports of fraud.

The National Democratic Party (NDP) won 419 of the 508 seats contested during the elections, which began last week. The second and final round of voting for the People's Assembly ended Sunday.

In 2005, the NDP secured 311 out of 454 seats in parliament, including 166 independents who joined the party after being elected.

Opposition groups, most of which boycotted the second round, won a total of 15 seats, while Independents won 70 seats.

Egypt's largest opposition group, the Muslim Brotherhood, which had 88 seats in the outgoing parliament, did not win a single seat.

The Brotherhood and several other parties refused to take part in the runoff after making a poor showing in the first round. Opposition groups and several human rights and civil society organisations accused NDP of fraud during the polls.

The government's High Elections Commission said there were only limited irregularities, where a few people were arrested for stuffing ballot boxes.

"Despite these irregularities, the committee expresses its satisfaction with the whole process, and affirms that it fulfilled its duty and calls on all people to put national interest above all," commission chief Sayyed Abdel Aziz Omar said after results were announced.

Turnout in the runoff is estimated at 27 percent, the commission said, a little less than the 35 percent voter participation in the first round.

On Monday, the Independent Coalition for Elections' Observation, comprised of three Egyptian non-governmental groups, called on Mubarak to dissolve the newly elected parliament because of alleged election fraud.

They put together video clips, presented at a press conference in Cairo, showing an alleged range of abuses.

The video, which could not be independently verified, depicted acts of bribery taking place, ballot cards being forged and violence at various polling stations across the country.

One video purports to show a 12-year-old boy casting a ballot, while another shows a 5-year-old bystander who allegedly suffered a gunshot wound to his foot during a dispute at a polling station in southern Egypt.

"I think such political and moral disaster, which the whole world has seen despite restrictions on media, will make the president seriously consider the situation," said Bahi Eddin Hassan, director of the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, one of the three groups behind the observation project.

The coalition said the violations were due to the absence of judicial supervision during the elections. Local observers said they had trouble keeping tabs on the voting, while foreign monitors were totally banned in the most populous Arab country.

According to Magdy Abdel-Hamid of the Association For Community Participation Enhancement - another member of the NGO coalition - the new parliament will put "the legitimacy of next year's presidential election into question".

Mubarak, 82, who has been in power for nearly 30 years, has yet to name a vice-president or successor, or to confirm if he will seek another six-year term in 2011.







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