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Egypt Runoff…Boycott or Not

Published: 11/06/2012 04:18:08 PM GMT
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CAIRO - Reflecting voter disdain at the top finalists for Egypt's new president, calls are growing for boycotting next week's runoff to elect a replacement to deposed president Hosni Mubarak. People once thought that the p (more)

CAIRO - Reflecting voter disdain at the top finalists for Egypt's new president, calls are growing for boycotting next week's runoff to elect a replacement to deposed president Hosni Mubarak.

"People once thought that the presidential elections would be the key to stability and change," Nazly Hussein, a human rights advocate, told the Los Angeles Times on Monday, June 11.

"They would assume I was boycotting because I'm one of the revolutionary activists.

“Now people tell me they want to boycott because they feel [the military] has ... pressured them into voting for two bad candidates."

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Egyptians are set to cast ballot on June 16-17 in a runoff vote to choose between Muslim Brotherhood's candidate Mohamed Mursi and former premier Ahmed Shafiq.

But the ballot has polarized the country, prompting calls for boycotting the vote.

Many Egyptians see the election of Shafiq, who was appointed premier in the dying days of Mubarak's regime, will be a reproduction of the toppled regime.

But some Egyptians are also worried that Mursi, the leader of the Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party, will restrict freedoms in the post-Mubarak era.

"It does not make sense to choose between two wrongs," said Mona Ammar, a protester on Tahrir Square.

"If Shafiq wins we will rise against him, but it could even be more dangerous if Mursi wins because he will try and use religion to placate and stall the people."

Sending reassuring messages on religious freedoms, Mursi has vowed full rights for Christians and women under his presidency.

Mursi said last month that Christian Copts will enjoy full rights like other Egyptians if he is elected president, suggesting they could take vice-president posts.

The Brotherhood's candidate has also dismissed claims about imposing a code of dress for women, reiterating that women will enjoy full rights under his leadership.

Unofficial results have shown that Mursi has won most votes of Egyptians living abroad.

Serving Mubaraks

But many believe that a boycott of the vote will play into the hands of Mubarak's loyalists.

"Our dispute with Mursi is political, while our dispute with Mubarak's candidate is criminal," former presidential candidate Abdel-Moneim Abul-Futuh said.

Abul-Futuh, who was expelled from the Brotherhood last year for defying the group's decision at the time to run for presidency, warned that a boycott could lead to fraud.

"Bring down the remnants [Shafiq] and do not boycott the election," he said.

Abul-Futuh's campaign on Sunday announced its support for the Muslim Brotherhood's candidate in next week's election.

But this opinion is not shared by all revolutionist icons.

Socialist candidate Hamdeen Sabahi, who finished third in the first round of voting, has said his party will boycott the election.

The divisions come as Egypt's highest court is set to rule on Thursday on whether Shafiq should be disqualified from the ballot under a law passed by the parliament in April.

If Shafiq is disqualified, the election will be re-held.

The constitutional court will also rule on whether effectively abolish the new Islamist-led parliament.

"The electoral vote is an individual responsibility of every citizen which he or she will be held accountable for only before God the Almighty, so it should not be subject to instructions from the outside or the inside,” Abul-Futuh said.“But we must all agree that we can not under any circumstances vote for the candidate of the remnants and re-produce the old regime.”

Reproduced with permission from