CAIRO, Asgarq al-Awsat and agencies – Police arrested seven Egyptians taking part in a Muslim Brotherhood protest on Friday against what the Islamist opposition group says were rigged legislative elections, a police source said.
The banned but tolerated Brotherhood fielded 52 candidates as independents in the first round of the elections on Wednesday. Full official results were yet to be announced, but the Brotherhood says it won four seats.
Another 42 of its candidates will go forward to a second round of voting on Tuesday because there was no clear winner in the seats they contested.
The Muslim Brotherhood supreme guide Mohammad Mahdi Akef was surprised that the group’s candidate in Al-Manufiyah entered the second round as he had obtained an estimated 22 thousand votes while the ruling National Democratic Party”s candidate only received 8 thousand votes.
He denied that the results will dishearten the Brotherhood, “We await our fate from God. What is happening confirms and shows that the government did not wish at any time to embark on reforms or change as it has alleged.”
Commenting on his predictions for the next round of elections, Akef said, “I do not know and it is impossible to predict any good fortune. What the government has done has exceeded what we imagined. We knew they were going to rig the elections and would not allow the will of the people to triumph but we did not imagine they would act on this scale with the world watching and listening.”
He expressed his disappointment that 42 candidates out of 52 were entering a second round “which shows the motives of the government and its goals.”
The Muslim Brotherhood stood in eight governorates and three candidates won in the first round. Two of the successful candidates were Adel Ahmad Farhat, a new figure in the organization, who won in the Sit Zaynab constituency in Cairo, and Mahmadi Abd al Maqsub town in Helwan, south of the capital. In the third win, Saad Hussein was victorious in al Batanun.
The authorities had given the Brotherhood, banned since 1954, unusual leeway ahead of the elections by allowing it to hold rallies and marches and releasing instead of arresting its activists.
But the Islamist group complained of irregularities in the voting, including swapping of ballot boxes and the intimidation of voters by supporters of the ruling National Democratic Party.
"No to rigged elections," more than 2,000 Brotherhood activists chanted in the protest after Friday prayers in Cairo, witnesses said. A police source said the seven men were arrested for hitting policemen.
The ruling party took an early lead in the first round, securing 24 seats. Voting on Wednesday was for 164 seats, but there was no clear winner in most of the constituencies where second round polls will be held next week.
The commission overseeing the election will announce the final results of the first round later on Friday.
Independent monitoring groups reported election violations including bribery and intimidation of voters.
The Brotherhood is the best organized opposition to the ruling party. It won 17 seats in parliament in 2000, more than any other opposition group, despite the arrest of its activists and police blocking its supporters from voting.
The elections for parliament”s 444 elected seats will finish in December.