The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

Muslim Brothers to boycott municipal elections

The other fallout from yesterday's events, and the crackdown on the MB of the last two months:

Egypt Islamists to boycott election

CAIRO (AFP) - Egypt's main opposition movement the Muslim Brotherhood said on Monday it will boycott Tuesday's municipal elections after it was allowed to field only 20 candidates for thousands of seats.

"We call on the Egyptian people to boycott the municipal elections because of the executive's disregard for justice," the group's deputy supreme leader Mohammed Habib told AFP.

"We are boycotting" the election, he said. The Brotherhood was set to field just 20 candidates after a wide-ranging government crackdown left many would-be candidates behind bars or blocked from registering.

In contrast, President Hosni Mubarak's ruling National Democratic Party is fielding a candidate for every one of the 52,000 council seats up for grabs.

Ninety percent of its candidates are standing unopposed, according to party members.

Here's the Ikhwan's announcement.

Some will ask, why did they bother contesting the elections for the last two months, enduring countless arrests, if it was to pull out at the last minute? In conversations with MB leaders in the last two months, I was told that there was an internal debate as to whether participation was worth the cost. The consensus agreement was that they did not want to be seen as abandoning political work, and that the short-term price of arrests was worth it for the long-term gain of legitimacy they would get from having tried to participate and getting every trick in the book thrown at them by the NDP. Out of 52,000 seats up for grabs, the MB only wanted to contest some 10,000, managed to get nearly 6,000 candidates, only about 500 of which managed to get their papers in. Of these, only 20 made it on the final electoral list. I think they've proven that they tried their best, and boycotting the elections sends a clear message that the elections are a farce. Combined with the low participation of the legal opposition and dissent within the NDP, and the general political climate following yesterday's events, expect record low turnouts tomorrow.