Run-offs update: NDP makes last-minute deals to save face, say observers

Seeking to produce a more democratic-looking parliament, the NDP made last-minute backroom deals with opposition candidates to guarantee a few independent victories, observers said.

The NDP pushed independent candidates to join parties that have no run-off candidates, the observers continued.

The ruling party compelled one Muslim Brotherhood contender to run in the second round in order to guarantee Brotherhood parliamentary representation, according to rights reports.

In the Aga district of Daqahliya Governorate, NDP candidate for the professionals seat Abdel Fattah Diab announced his withdrawal from the election in protest over alleged fraud aimed at facilitating a win for his leftist Tagammu Party competitor.

The NDP has pushed Mohamed al-Kharweeli, an independent candidate in the Mahalla Governorate, to join the Geel Party, according to a report published today by the Egyptian Association for the Development of Societal Participation.

The NDP struck a deal with Geel stipulating al-Kharweeli join the opposition party and the NDP would facilitate his win, says news reports.

The pullout of Ahmed al-Sharawi, al-Kharweeli's competitor for the same seat, early this morning suggests the reports are authentic. Al-Sharawi has accused the security apparatus of blocking his representatives from accessing polling stations.

Egyptian Association for the Development of Societal Participation head Ahmed Fawzi said the NDP desperately seeks to have the opposition represented in the new parliament, particularly after Wafd and Muslim Brotherhood leaders decided to withdraw from the run-off.

Fawzi added that the security apparatus forced Magdi Ashour, the Brotherhood candidate in the Marg and Nozha district, to continue the race.
State-run media, meanwhile, have severely criticized Wafd and independent candidates for boycotting run-off elections.

Observers say the pullout of Wafd and the Brotherhood will embarrass the ruling party, which is expected to seize 96 percent of parliamentary seats, making it a virtual single-party parliament.

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