The Muslim Brotherhood and the secular Wafd party withdrew from Egypt’s election on Wednesday after a crushing first-round defeat by the president’s ruling party marred by alleged fraud and violence.
The move left barely any opposition to contest the second round of the parliamentary poll next Sunday and dealt another blow to its credibility after Egypt came under heavy criticism from its US ally and human rights groups.
The Muslim Brotherhood won a fifth of the seats in the 2005 election, but failed to secure a single one in Sunday’s ballot.
“Sunday was marked by fraud, terrorism and violence carried out by police and thugs,” the Islamists said in a statement, adding that “the Brotherhood refuses to react to such violence.”
Despite the boycott, “we still plan to take all legal measures to invalidate this pseudo-parliament,” they said.
The liberal Wafd party, which won only two of 508 contested seats, said it was also pulling out of the election altogether, along with its two successful candidates.
“We will withdraw from all the election. The two who won seats in the first round will also withdraw,” said Munir Fakhir Abdel Nur, the secular party’s secretary-general.
One of Wafd’s two senators, Bahaa Abu Shaqa, also said he was resigning from the upper house.
The leftist Tagammu party, which won one seat, said it would keep its candidates in the run-off.
Official figures showed Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s National Democratic Party (NDP) won 209 of 221 seats in the first round of the poll, seen as a forerunner to a crucial presidential election next year.
The NDP defended the election and said the Brotherhood lost its seats because it was unpopular.
“These elections will go down in history as free and clean,” NDP secretary-general Safwat al-Sharif told a press conference.