Egypt's Labor Party May Boycott Elections
CAIRO (Albawaba) - Egypt's main opposition Labor Party has said it could boycott next month's parliamentary elections in protest against a crackdown on its members and supporters by the security forces.
The Labor Party's activities have been suspended with the arrest of its leaders and the closure of its newspaper, Al-Shaab. Adel Hussein, the secretary general of the Labor Party, told Egyptian reporters that party members have the right to participate in the elections "on an individual basis." But he said the participation would be limited because of the government measures. "The measures that have been taken recently, to besiege the party by terrifying its members, is an indication of what is going on in the electoral battle. Our candidates will be confronted with a strong campaign of fraud."
Meanwhile, the authorities have released the leader of the Labor Party who was being questioned over its links with the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood. Ibrahim Shukri, 84, was freed after being held and questioned since last Wednesday. According to reports in the Egyptian media, Shukri was released temporarily on health grounds.
The government in May suspended the Labor Party, which has had an informal electoral pact since 1987 with the banned Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's biggest and most influential Islamist group. Egypt is currently preparing for parliamentary elections in October and November. Last week, a higher administrative court turned down a government appeal against a lower court ruling that lifted a suspension on Al-Shaab. The biweekly newspaper was suspended at the same time as the party. However, an administrative court lifted the suspension on September 9th.
Both the party and Al-Shaab were suspended after the newspaper published an article saying a book by a Syrian writer insulted Islam. The article sparked riots in which religious students clashed with police in Cairo.
The jailed editor of Al Shaab, Magdy Hussein, has announced that he plans to run for parliament in the forthcoming general election. "From inside the jail, Magdy Ahmed Hussein has decided to register for the legislative election for the Cairo neighborhood of Manyal," Talaat Rumeih, deputy chief editor said in a statement.
A court last year sentenced Hussein and two other Al-Shaab journalists to two years in jail for libeling government officials. Rumeih said the authorities were hindering registration procedures for Hussein, saying they were sitting on his request for documents to prove he has no criminal record.
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