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Al-Wafd says to fire candidates defying runoff election boycott

By-Marwa Al-A’sar/Daily News Egypt | 5 December 2010

CAIRO: Al-Wafd opposition party will fire the dissident members who decided to compete in the People’s Assembly (PA) runoff elections despite the party’s withdrawal, spokesman Mohamed Sherdy told Daily News Egypt on Friday.

According to the Supreme Electoral Commission, if any of the three Al-Wafd candidates wins in the runoff, the Law for Practicing Political Rights dictates that s/he can become an independent Member of Parliament. 
 
“The withdrawal of Al-Wafd party from elections is an internal matter that does not concern the SEC. The law regulates the candidacy of persons not parties,” SEC spokesman Sameh El-Kashef told Daily News Egypt.
 
Al-Wafd party’s executive bureau announced Thursday it would withdraw from the runoff elections in response to alleged violations and ballot-rigging committed by the authorities during the first round of polls held Nov. 28.
 
However, three party members defied the party’s decision and said they would compete in the runoff on Dec. 5 as independents at constituencies in Cairo and Ismalia.
 
The official Middle East News Agency (MENA) quoted Al-Wafd candidate Atef El-Ashmouny in Cairo’s Matariya constituency as saying that parties were created to be part of the political life and expose violations.
 
El-Ashmouny said he will go on with competing for the PA seat regardless of any action taken against him by the party.
 
Al-Wafd fielded about 200 candidates in the elections. Two Al-Wafd candidates won seats in the first round while nine were expected to compete in the runoff scheduled for Sunday.
 
According to Sherdy, there is no legal action to be taken against the three dissidents since the deadline for withdrawing from the elections was over before the first round. “Yet the party will apply the internal rules and regulations against them.”
 
“Even if they win, they will not be able to register in the assembly as party members [since they would be fired by then]. We will send the PA [an official notification] saying that nobody will represent Al-Wafd in this assembly,” Sherdy said.
 
The party itself has defied the SEC, which announced following the first round that it is illegal to pull out of elections in the runoff.
 
Sherdy was an MP in the previous parliamentary round. He joined the race for this round and was granted another chance in the runoff in Port Said governorate. 
 
“Though I pulled out, my name is still on the ballot papers. Voters will go to polling stations Sunday and find my name [and other party members] as candidates,” he explained.
 
Sherdy rules out the possibility that he would join the PA even if he wins Sunday.
 
El-Kashef said during a press conference earlier this week, while some “transgressions” did occur, they “did not undermine the probity and integrity of the first round results.”
 
On Aug. 30, opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei’s had called on Egyptian citizens and all opposition groups and parties to boycott the elections.
 
Only a few parties and opposition groups responded to ElBaradei’s call, while Al-Wafd and the Muslim Brotherhood group decided to field candidates in the polls.
 
“We are not regretting that we had not boycotted the elections earlier. On the contrary, it would have [given the impression] that the elections were held with integrity,” Sherdy said.
 
“Now by pulling out, we [are raising doubts over] any credibility that the [regime and the ruling party] have left,” he concluded.
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