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Egypt's Ruling Party Calls for Probe of Independent Candidates

VOA News 25 November 2010

Egypt's ruling party has asked the public prosecutor to investigate 52 candidates who are running as independents in Sunday's parliamentary elections.

The National Democratic Party said Thursday its complaints allege that the candidates are being backed by an illegal organization. Party spokesman Ali El Din Hillal said the matter is a legal issue, although he acknowledges the complaints probably will not be resolved in time for Sunday's voting.

The ruling party's complaints may be a reference to the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, which is backing 130 candidates who are running as independents.

The Muslim Brotherhood is banned because Egyptian law prohibits religious parties. Candidates who were backed by the opposition group, however, now control one-fifth of the lower house of parliament.

This ruling party challenge comes a day after an Egyptian court ordered elections to be halted in most of Alexandria after its directives to reinstate disqualified candidates were ignored. Many of the candidates were affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood.

The National Democratic Party appealed the court's decision.

The Muslim Brotherhood said Egyptian authorities have arrested more than 1,200 of its members and supporters in recent weeks, in an attempt to prevent them from campaigning.

Rights groups have criticized Egypt for its rejection of international election monitors. On Wednesday, Human Rights Watch said issues in Egypt, including arbitrary arrests and intimidation, have made a free and fair vote extremely unlikely.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.

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