CAIRO (AFP) – Egypt’s ruling party said on Thursday it has filed complaints with the public prosecutor against 52 independent candidates in Sunday’s parliamentary election for belonging to an illegal organisation.
“We have evidence that 52 candidates are not independent,” National Democratic Party (NDP) spokesman Ali El Din Hilal told reporters in Cairo.
“It is not a question of ideology. We are raising a purely legal question. We want people to play party politics by creating political parties,” he said.
“This investigation will take a long time, well beyond the time of the election,” Hilal added.
The NDP spokesman appeared to be referring to members of the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s largest opposition force, 130 of whom are down to stand as independents to skirt a ban on religious parties.
The group would probably not be approved by the Political Parties Committee, the NDP-dominated body that approves requests to establish parties, which it rarely does.
In a statement published on Wednesday, the NDP said the “failure by legal political parties and the society as a whole to confront this matter would be a threat to political life” in Egypt.
Hilal’s comment comes just three days ahead of the election and after weeks of violence that have seen more than 1,000 Muslim Brotherhood supporters arrested and tough restrictions imposed on opposition candidates.
Dozens of Brotherhood candidates have already been disqualified.
“We will not accept the transformation of Egypt into a religious state… We want a system based on citizenship, not on religion,” the NDP spokesman said, adding that his party aimed to win a parliamentary majority of more than two thirds.
International rights groups say that repression and intimidation of opposition candidates ahead of the election, which is widely expected to return the NDP to power, have made a fair vote improbable.