Egypt Brotherhood to join wider election list

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CAIRO: Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood has reached agreement in principle to run a joint list with other parties in the next parliamentary elections, its deputy leader said on Wednesday.

The heads of the Islamist group and some smaller secular parties agreed to run a united list in the elections, expected in around six months, which will be the first after veteran president Hosni Mubarak’s ouster last month by a wave of popular protests, Khairat Al-Shater said.

Shater, one of the Brotherhood’s three deputy leaders, told AFP the parties “agreed in principle to enter the election with an open, national list.”

The Islamist group, which had been banned since 1954, has said it will form a political party before the election.

They agreed to refer the matter to a committee to flesh out the proposal, he said.

The groups at the meeting, which included the liberal Wafd party and the leftist Nasserist and Karama parties, issued a joint declaration after a press conference that called for a series of democratic reforms.

“In the event that there is an agreement on the final shape of the national list, this will be its shared political program,” Shater told reporters.

The declaration made no mention of a referendum on constitutional amendments to be held this Saturday that has divided opposition groups, with the Brotherhood urging its members to back the changes and others calling for a “no” vote.

The amendments, which include making it easier to stand for president and limiting the head of state to two four-year terms, were drafted by a panel of experts appointed by the military council that has ruled since Mubarak’s resignation.

The Brotherhood played down differences between the parties over the proposed amendments, which critics say were drawn up too hastily and do not go far enough.

“Some of us say yes, and we respect that opinion, and some of us say no, and we also respect that opinion. This is democracy,” Saad Al-Katatni, a senior Brotherhood official, said at the press conference.

But the head of the Wafd party, Sayyid Al-Badawi, said approval of the amendments would cause a “constitutional impasse.”

“We don’t reject them because they are bad, but because we want a new constitution,” he told reporters after the meeting.

“If the amendments are ratified, we would go back to constitutional legitimacy, and the constitution does not allow for the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces,” he said, referring to the ruling military council.


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