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Election Concerns in Egypt Ahead of Sunday's Polling

VOA News 27 November 2010

Voters in Egypt are preparing to cast ballots Sunday in the country's first parliamentary elections since 2005, as complaints are made of election violations and harassment from opposition and rights groups.

The Muslim Brotherhood opposition group says an Alexandria court sentenced 12 of its supporters to two years in prison Friday on charges of unlawful campaigning. The sentences are the latest in a series of crackdowns on the banned group that runs its candidates as independents.

Egyptian law prohibits religious parties but candidates who were backed by the Muslim Brotherhood now control one-fifth of the lower house of parliament. The opposition group is backing 130 candidates in Sunday's polling.

A lawyer for the group and a security official say authorities have arrested at least 22 Muslim Brotherhood supporters over the past two days. The group says Egyptian authorities have arrested more than 1,200 of its members and supporters in recent weeks.

Meanwhile, Egypt's official MENA news agency says as many as 76 civil organizations will be observing the elections. The rights group has criticized Egypt for its rejection of international election monitors.

However, MENA said Saturday that the voting at more than 200 main polling stations and thousands nationwide will be under the supervision of almost 2,300 judges. The news agency also says 267,000 civil servants will monitor the process.

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

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