Opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei said he would boycott the upcoming parliamentary polls, refusing President Mohamed Morsi’s call for elections.
The National Salvation Front (NSF) and Dostour Party leader said on his twitter account that he had “called for parliamentary election boycott in 2010 to expose sham democracy. Today I repeat my call, [we] will not be part of an act of deception”.
In 2010 ElBaradei called for boycotting parliamentary elections under former president Hosni Mubarak. Mubarak’s National Democratic Party gained over 98% of seats, casting doubt on the state’s commitment to democracy. Mubarak was ousted two months later in a popular revolt.
The NSF, a coalition of secular parties and groups from across the political spectrum, stated through its spokesperson Khaled Dawou that Morsi’s decision was “disastrous”.
“The Front considers this decision disastrous; it is leading the country to the brink. We need a competent, neutral cabinet to run elections and deal with the many crises facing the country,” Dawoud said on the Telt Al Talata talk show on Friday night.
He added that Morsi had failed to provide any guarantees that the elections would be free and fair and said that the NSF is leaning towards boycotting the elections, with an official announcement scheduled for Sunday or Monday.
NSF leaders have been threatening to boycott the elections for some time, insisting their participation hinges on Morsi meeting set demands, including dismissing Prime Minister Hesham Qandil’s cabinet and appointing a “national salvation” politically neutral cabinet to run the elections.
The opposition had also called on Morsi to postpone the elections, saying the country is not yet ready, and demanded he remove Prosecutor General Tala’at Abdallah, whom he appointed unilaterally in November. They also requested the formation of a constitutional review committee tasked with suggesting amendments to controversial and disputed articles of the newly-adopted constitution.
A secular boycott of the elections almost guarantees an Islamist landslide victory in upcoming elections for the House of Representatives, the lower house of parliament.
Islamist parties already have over 80% of seats in the upper house. The Muslim Brotherhood’s political wing, the Freedom and Justice Party to which Morsi belongs, hold a majority of over 50%.
If the Brotherhood duplicates its success in the Shura Council elections, which were also boycotted by most secular parties, they would have a majority in both houses of parliament and thus control the legislative agenda. They would also be able to form a new cabinet as the new constitution dictates.
Follow Ahmed Aboul Enein on Twitter @aaboulenein