Egypt Muslim Brotherhood holds internal poll

Public vote seen as part of push to show off its political machine and dispel secretive reputation.

    The Muslim Brotherhood's "Freedom and Justice" party will vie for half of parliament's seats in November [AP]

    The Muslim Brotherhood has held its first public internal election since the fall of President Hosni Mubarak, flexing newfound electoral strength ahead of a nationwide vote in November.

    After decades spent underground because of an official ban, the Brotherhood's public vote on Saturday is said to be part of a push by the group to show off its political machine and dispel a secretive reputation.

    The Brotherhood,  Egypt's largest political group, chose three new members to the group's 17-member executive board to replace those who joined the leadership of the group's newly launched Freedom and Justice Party.

    In a speech given at the election, Brotherhood leader Mohamed Badie said: "The elections taking place in this open manner is one of the gains of the blessed revolution that has allowed freedom of expression and granted freedom to all Egyptian citizens, including the Muslim Brotherhood."

    Credibility boost

    Saturday's vote marked a clear shift from the past, when the Brotherhood was banned from public politics and its members and finances were targets of a constant security crackdown. Even so, some experts believe the brotherhood staged the public vote for strategic reasons.

    Photographers and journalists  were invited to the election where more than 100 members of the group's policy making body cast ballots in tranparent boxes.

    "The group is doing this now as it wants to set a model in democracy and transparency ahead of the parliamentary vote," Mustapha al-Sayyid, political science professor at Cairo University, told Reuters.

    "Having an internal election in public will certainly increase the credibility of the group among the public."

    Formed in 1928, the Brotherhood was banned in 1954 after it was accused of using violent tactics against opponents. The group later renounced violence, but remained officially banned

    In Egypt's new politcal arena, however, the Freedom and Justice is set to vie for half of parliament's seats and appears poised to win big at the November polls. It won one-fifth of the parliamentary seats in 2005, when it ran candidates as independents.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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