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Egyptian government rights group urges poll probe | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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CAIRO (Reuters) – Egypt’s government-sponsored National Council for Human Rights called on Thursday for an investigation into killings during parliamentary elections that ended in December.

In a report, the council — headed by former U.N. Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali — accused security forces of hindering voters and urged a review of banned groups contesting elections.

President Hosni Mubarak’s ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) won about three-quarters of the seats in the 454-member parliament. The officially banned but usually tolerated Muslim Brotherhood won an unprecedented 88 seats, making it Egypt’s strongest opposition group.

At least 11 people were killed in violent clashes during voting, which took place in three stages over a month.

The council recommended “an immediate investigation into the killing of citizens as a result of violence and clashes that occurred in some districts.”

It said it had strong concerns about the role of the security forces and accused them of blocking voters from voting.

Although it did not mention the Muslim Brotherhood by name, the council said it recommended “the study of the situation of banned political organizations which participate despite their illegal status in elections … This creates a contradiction.”

Egyptian law demands the separation of religion and politics, and the council said it noted the use of religious slogans during the electoral process.

Council member Hafez Abu Seada said: “If the Muslim Brotherhood became a civic party that allows Christians as members and recognizes the authority of parliament they have the right to become a legal party.”

The use of state funds and institutions, such as public transport and the media, by the NDP in its election campaign was prominent among accusations of election abuse directed at the ruling party by independent rights groups.

In its list of recommendations, the council included “the importance of separation between government institutions and the ruling party” and called for steps to be taken against those in government who were found to have exploited their position.

Although the council is government-sponsored, the government has no obligation to implement its recommendations.

“The national council is a consultative council. It has no authority to impose anything on the government, but it can present recommendations,” Boutros-Ghali told a news conference.