Mursi’s opponents say they will boycott Egyptian elections
An alliance of Egyptian opposition parties decided yesterday to boycott parliamentary elections in protest at an election law they say favours the Muslim Brotherhood, increasing the chance that Islamists will sweep the vote.
The boycott by liberal and leftist parties opposed to President Mohamed Morsi aims to undermine the legitimacy of the vote and shows the polarisation that has defined Egyptian politics since Hosni Mubarak was toppled two years ago.
It raises the prospect of an election fought mostly between Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood and more hardline Islamist groups such as the Salafi Nour Party. The vote is to be held in four stages between late April and June.
The National Salvation Front (NSF) – an array of liberal and leftist parties struggling to compete with the Islamists – said there should be no elections for the lower house of Parliament without a law guaranteeing fair polls.
The law was passed this month by the Islamist-dominated upper house of Parliament, which has been exercising legislative power in the absence of a lower house. The Islamists deny opposition accusations that the law divides constituencies in a way that favours the Muslim Brotherhood.
“There can be no elections without a law that guarantees the fairness of the election process and a government that can implement such a law and be trusted by the people,” said Sameh Ashour, a spokesman for the NSF, who also called for “real independence of the judiciary”.
With deep grass roots networks, the Islamists have won all elections since Mubarak was swept from power in a popular uprising that for a while brought Egyptians together in a display of unity rarely seen since then.
Divisions between the Islamists and their opponents have widened since Morsi won last year’s presidential election. Tensions spilt into lethal street violence late last year when the president was accused of staging a power grab – accusations the Islamists dismissed as propaganda.
Seeking to convince the opposition to take part, Morsi invited them to talks yesterday to address concerns about the vote, but the alliance declined to attend. “We tell President Morsi: talk with yourself and your party,”Ashour said.
Morsi went ahead with the talks anyway. “I hope these elections will be fully fair,” he told the televised meeting attended by Islamists, smaller parties and independents.
“We all bear the responsibility and I bear the most respon-sibility.”
Morsi said he hoped “our dear brothers who did not meet us today” would join the talks at a later date.