Asharq al-Awsat, Cairo – President Hosni Mubarak’s strongest challenger in the presidential race two months ago lost his parliamentary seat in an upset in the first round of Egypt’s legislative elections.
Ayman Nour, an opposition figure and the leader of al Ghad party, was defeated by a candidate of the ruling National Democratic Party for the Bab al Shariyah constituency in southern Cairo.
In an exclusive interview with Asharq al Awsat, Nour indicated that his defeat was the result of unprecedented rigging by the government. He refused to blame his rival but said, “I expected this result. The government used all its powers to ensure a victory."
“What happened cannot be called elections," he said, charging that his party followers were harassed by the government.
Nour promised to appeal to the courts to challenge the results. Commenting on the campaign to distance him from politics using legitimate means, Nour said, “All this is because I said no to the government. My opposition will continue and they will pay the price dearly” but he did not elaborate.