ALEXANDRIA, Egypt: The Muslim Brotherhood said on Sunday it had withdrawn from chamber of commerce elections in Alexandria because of interference by security forces to hinder its chances.
The Islamist group, Egypt s strongest opposition force, complained that police had stopped its candidates and their representatives from entering polling stations to vote and observe the election. After conspicuous security interference and organized fraud operations, the Muslim Brotherhood in Alexandria has decided to withdraw from the chamber of commerce elections, a Brotherhood statement said. Witnesses said thousands of police deployed in Alexandria and closed off a polling station in the Raml district. The Brotherhood said police let candidates from a government-supported group enter the station. Blocking of polling stations by police was a tactic used by the authorities during parliamentary elections last year to curb inroads made by the Brotherhood into the ruling party s overwhelming majority. The Brotherhood underlined its status as Egypt s biggest opposition group in the elections, winning nearly a fifth of parliament seats despite arrests of its activists and blocking of polling stations by police. The Brotherhood, which is officially banned, only contested around a third of parliament s seats. Its candidates stood as independents to circumvent a ban on the group, which is not recognized as a political party. Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif said this month the government wants to prevent the Brotherhood from forming a parliamentary bloc in future. On Saturday, the opposition group said the police had arrested its four-man media team for the elections.
He added that police raided and searched houses early on Friday and confiscated their computers. The Interior Ministry said it had no information about the arrests. Reuters