Muslim Brotherhood List Dominates Egypt's Long-Delayed Bar Election
Egypt's outlawed Muslim Brotherhood dominated elections to the board of the long-frozen Bar Association with every member of its list winning seats, according to results announced by Sunday.
The election revived the Bar whose activities were frozen in January 1996 for "bad financial management," at a time when Muslim Brothers held 16 of the board's 24 seats.
The results also confirmed the movement's position as one of Egypt's best organized political forces, despite its illegal status, after forming the largest opposition bloc in parliament, taking 17 of the chamber's 454 seats in elections last year.
In Saturday's Bar Association vote, all 20 candidates on the Brotherhood-supported list won places on the board, according to results read by Ali Abdel Shakur, the head of the committee supervising the vote.
In addition to nine actual members of the illegal movement, the Brotherhood list included four members of the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP), four independents, one Coptic Christian, one member of the opposition Wafd party and one member of the opposition Nasserite party.
The four other winners were all unaffiliated independents.
The position of Bar Association chief, who occupies a 25th seat on the union's administrative board, was won by Nasserite candidate Sameh Ashur who had organized his own list of candidates.
The Muslim Brotherhood had supported a ruling party member, Ragai Attiya, for the position of head of the Bar, but they abandoned him before the vote and the Brotherhood's supporters rallied behind Ashur.
Ashur took 19,000 votes over Attiya's 17,000, Abdel Shakur said.
The Brotherhood, which commands a large voting bloc within the 207,000-member Bar Association, says it is aiming to establish an Islamic state by peaceful means.
It is officially banned in Egypt, although generally tolerated.
But former Bar Association treasurer Mukhtar Nuh was among a group of 15 Muslims Brothers sentenced to between three and five years in prison last November for trying to "manipulate" the unions.
They were found guilty of belonging to an illegal group with the aim of "disturbing the social peace" as well as trying to "instigate antagonism to the policies of the government."
The Bar election was due to take place on July 1 last year, but the government cancelled it amid Brotherhood cries that the state was trying to undermine its presence in the union.
An Egyptian administrative court later ordered the government's legal committee supervising the vote to fix a date for the elections, saying it was not competent to delay them -- CAIRO (AFP)
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