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Egypt bans Brotherhood members from running for elections

Brotherhood poll ban ruling comes after petition filed by private organisation as military-backed government sees no space for reconciliation or inclusion of group in upcoming elections
Muslim Brotherhood supporters (AFP)

An Alexandria court issued a ban on current and former members of the Muslim Brotherhood from running in upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections, said a lawyer and state media to AFP.

The court ruling issued on Tuesday came amid new attacks targeting Egyptian police and army soldiers and after a group of anti-Brotherhood protesters filed a petition calling for the ban.

“It is illogical to receive such candidacies after the government designated the Brotherhood a terrorist organisation,” Tareq Mahmoud, legal advisor for the Popular Front against the Brotherhoodization of Egypt told AFP.

“We submitted videos, photos and documents showing terrorist acts carried out by the Muslim Brotherhood, which is why it is illogical that they lead the country or represent its people in elections.”

The ban comes as a stark contradiction to previous comments made by the Egyptian government.

The Egyptian government could agree to reconciliation with the Brotherhood if it accepts the transition roadmap, Minister of Social Solidarity Ahmed El-Borei told Aharm Online in November 2013.

It is unlikely any successful reconciliation initiatives will progress with the Muslim Brotherhood as the group “continues its violence against Egyptian people”, Tamarod spokesperson Maha Abu Bakr told Youm7 in March.

Reconciliation might take place after presidential elections, she added.

In April 2013, Tamarod organised a campaign collecting signatures calling on new elections and on Morsi to step down. The group organised mass protests across Egypt on the eve of his first anniversary in office which led to his military overthrow on 3 July 2013.

On the other hand, Khaled Saeed, spokesperson for the Salafi Front told BBC that the court order reflects the continuation of a military dictatorship through a legal veneer.

This will lead to a lack of confidence in state institutions, he added. 

"Despite regime rhetoric suggesting that the Brotherhood is small and no longer has popular support, the military government continues to be concerned about the Brotherhood's popularity and electoral prowess. The ban is consistent with post-coup policy, which has sought to eliminate the Muslim Brotherhood from political life," said Mohamad Elmasry to MEE, Visiting Scholar at the University of Denver's Center for Middle East Studies.

"The regime seems to see exclusionary, eliminationist policies as necessary for survival. A democratic turn, or even a partial opening allowing the Brotherhood back into the fold, would be risky for a military government that has committed massive repression and numerous crimes. I think the ban needs to be seen in this broader light," he added. 

Egypt has since been rocked by a series of terrorist attacks. While most attacks have targeted Sinai, Cairo and the Nile Delta have witnessed several incident over the recent monthes.

Egyptian authorities say militants have killed about 500 in retaliation for the military overthrow of Morsi, according to AFP.

While Ansar Beit al-Maqdis claimed responsibility for most attacks, the Brotherhood was blamed for several incidents including the recent explosions near Cairo University killing a police general on 2 April.

Since the military ouster of former elected President Mohamed Morsi in 2013, the state is pursuing a massive crackdown on the Islamist movement.

The interim military government declared the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organisation after blaming it for an attack on police headquarters in north Cairo in December 2013.

Two bomb explosions in Cairo on Tuesday wounded five people including two policemen and a civilian.

529 members of the group were sentenced to death after a speedy court trial in March, while thousands of others have been jailed since the summer of 2013.

Saudi Arabia declared the movement a terrorist group in March, while David Cameron issued an investigation in March into the activities of the Muslim Brotherhood.