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Protest group to boycott Egypt parliamentary vote

Islamists, opposition at odds over poll date in Egypt

Gulf News

Cairo: A major grass roots movement has said it will not participate in Egypt’s forthcoming parliamentary polls to protest against the policy of President Mohammad Mursi.

“We will not field any candidate in the coming parliamentary elections and will not support a regime that has turned against the objectives of the January (2011) revolution,” the Popular Current Movement said in a statement late Tuesday following a crisis meeting.

The group, led by former presidential contender Hamdeen Sabahi, decided against quitting the main opposition bloc, the National Salvation Front.

The bloc, an umbrella grouping of leftists and liberals, has hinted it may boycott the polls unless it gets guarantees for fair and free elections, including the replacement of the Islamist-backed government and international monitoring of the balloting.

The opposition is pushing for delaying the elections, saying that prevalent political tensions and economic woes in the country make it hard to hold fair voting. The opposition also cites a ruling by the Supreme Constitutional Court this week invalidating several articles in a new electoral law as another reason for postponing the polls.

Mursi’s Islamist allies, meanwhile, insist the elections be held this spring, saying it is necessary for fast-tracking the country’s democratic transition. Mursi has yet to set an exact date for the polls. The opposition accuses Mursi of betraying the revolt that brought him to power and of tightening the grip of his group, the Muslim Brotherhood.

“The incumbent regime disregards all values of democracy and freedom,” said the Popular Current. “We support with all our power and cadres all forms of peaceful resistance, including civil disobedience, being one of the peaceful means now being exercised by the valiant people of Port Saeed,” it added.

The Suez Canal city of Port Saeed has been observing a general strike since Sunday to protest what they say is the government’s negligence in the aftermath of a deadly police crackdown on rioting in the city late last month.

Anti-government protesters are pushing for other Egyptian provinces to follow suit to protest Mursi’s policy.