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.
Press reports said only 700 out 1,700 members of the opposition liberal Wafd party were able to register, as well as some 400 members of the left-leaning Tagammu party.
According to senior Brotherhood leader Essam al-Erian, the group's candidate list was reduced from 5,754 to 498 members, prompting it to file 3,192 lawsuits demanding that candidates be reinstated on the ballots. It won 2,664 of these cases. "The government, however, has refused to honour the court rulings," Erian wrote in an editorial posted on the group's website. "It has become clear that the National Democratic Party will not face any real competition in the upcoming elections," he said.
Meanwhile, calm returned to the Egyptian industrial city of Mahalla Monday, the day after dozens were wounded in clashes between demonstrators and security forces, both sides told AFP. "Everything has returned to normal," a security official told AFP, requesting anonymity. "The workers are back at their jobs and all the schools are open except two that were burnt yesterday," the official said.
The security official said that a heavy security presence remained deployed around the city in case of trouble.