Mubarak says parliament vote will be free

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CAIRO: Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak gave the assurance on Wednesday that parliamentary elections this month will be free, a day after rights groups reported restrictions on the opposition and media.

“I will reaffirm that I anticipate, and the party anticipates, that the elections will be free and have integrity,” Mubarak told a conference of the ruling National Democratic Party.

Mubarak said his party would work for the country’s poor who have not yet felt the benefits of the government’s economic reforms.

“There may be many views and tendencies, but all the sons of people look forward to a noble, better life,” he said.

He added that the November 28 election will be supervised by the election committee and Egyptian civil society groups, some of which issued a statement on Tuesday denouncing what they said were restrictions on opposition candidates.

The coalition of 16 rights groups, the Forum of Independent Human Rights Organizations, said the government had also given the interior ministry wide powers over the voting process.

The government’s conduct in elections for the legislature will be seen as a foreshadowing of the more important presidential elections that will be held next year.

In his speech, Mubarak, 82, did not hint at whether he will run again in the next election, which is scheduled for late 2011.

Analysts say violence may mar the upcoming parliamentary vote. More than a dozen people were killed in the last election in 2005, which left the banned Muslim Brotherhood group in control of a fifth of parliament.

The group, which registers its candidates as independents, fielded 134 candidates for the election.

The Brotherhood says the election committee has already rejected four of its candidates, including the deputy leader of its parliamentary bloc.


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