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Middle East

Brotherhood party aims for outright majority in new Egypt parliament

A hand out picture released by Egyptian Presidency shows Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi (R) giving a speech before the newly empowered senate in Cairo on December 29, 2012. (AFP PHOTO/HO/EGYPTIAN PRESIDENCY)

CAIRO: The Brotherhood’s political party aims to win an outright majority in Egypt’s forthcoming parliamentary elections without making alliances with other more hard-line Islamist groups, its leader said Thursday.

Saad al-Katatni, 61, became the Freedom and Justice Party leader in October, replacing Mohammad Mursi who had become the first elected president of Egypt since the overthrow of veteran authoritarian President Hosni Mubarak in 2011.

“The Freedom and Justice Party will aim to get a majority [in parliament]. We expect more popular support and an increase in our number of seats beyond what we held in the previous parliament,” Katatni told a news conference.

The FJP won about 40 percent of the vote in a parliamentary election last year, short of an absolute majority, although Islamist groups won a total of about 70 percent of the seats.

The assembly was dissolved by a court order months later because the electoral rules were deemed unconstitutional. Katatni was the speaker of that short-lived parliament.

Since the fall of Mubarak, Islamists have moved to the forefront of politics with organizational skills and finances unmatched by liberal and leftist rivals.

But the Brotherhood-led government has faced growing hostility from opponents who accuse it of striving to monopolize power rather than seek consensus on political rights and economic reform, sparking protests that have turned violent.

Although he earlier pledged to forge a broader political front before the parliamentary vote, Katatni said the FJP would not make deals with other Islamist groups such as the Salafist Al-Nour party, its biggest religious rival.

“The FJP will coordinate to find alliances with other political forces but until now we have not decided yet who we will seek to form an alliance with,” he said.

“The Salafi parties and in particular Al-Nour have announced they do not wish to ally with the FJP,” Katatni said, signaling fierce competition among Islamists in the next election.

An official at the presidency told Reuters the vote was slated for the end of April or early May and would likely involve three rounds of voting, guarded by the armed forces.

Next week, the constitutional court will submit its review of a parliamentary election law to the Shura council, the sole legislative body during the transition, which will adopt the law by the following week, judicial sources said.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on February 15, 2013, on page 9.

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