Brotherhood’s Power to Be Tested in Coming Presidential Elections

Unlike the first presidential elections after the January 25 uprising which brought the Mohamed Mursi to power, the Muslim Brotherhood, which Egypt declared a terrorist organization last year, is boycotting this May’s presidential race.

Magdy Karkar, a leader in the National Alliance to Support Legitimacy, which the Muslim Brotherhood co-founded to support Mursi days before his overthrow, has said that the group has not yet planned demonstrations on election days (May 26 and 27).

Kakar told Aswat Masriya in a telephone interview that the turnout will not exceed that of the last elections and that calls to boycott launched by the alliance are being widely supported internally and externally.

The election and its turnout are considered a test of the power and influence of the Brotherhood which has suffered an intense crackdown since the overthrow of Mursi last July.

Ashraf Sherif, a Political Science Professor at the American University in Cairo, said that despite the lack of a central or strategic plan, the Brotherhood’s leaders and youths will boycott the vote, especially in light of their inability to gather supporters with their senior members behind bars.

“There is no political, ideological or psychological incentive for us to participate in the vote. There is a complete rejection towards the current political atmosphere,” he added.

Sherif explained that a limited number of young Brotherhood members may vote for Sabahi, but not an influential portion.

MB Test of Power

The Muslim Brotherhood boycotted a constitutional referendum in January on a charter that replaced another written under the Mursi administration.

The turnout of this year’s referendum exceeded 38% with 98% supporting the passing of the new constitution, compared to a turnout of 32% on the Brotherhood’s constitution which only garnered 64% of the total support.

MB under new president

Karkar explained that the alliance will not recognize the result of the vote and that they will continue to call for peaceful demonstrations to denounce what Mursi supporters view as a military coup against the legitimate president.

Karkar pointed out that Sabahi’s victory may leave some space for discussion unlike Sisi’s victory, adding “Sisi is the leader of the coup… Sabahi supported the coup.”

Muslim Brotherhood leaders were not available for comment.

“More oppression”

Sherif believes that Sabahi’s victory “would be better for the Brotherhood because he may reduce the oppression due to his political, not security, background.”

He added that this is only in theory since Sisi will win the race anyway, insisting that the former army chief’s victory will lead to more oppression of the Brotherhood and forcing the group to negotiate and surrender their cause.

Sisi had said in his first televised speech, about two weeks ago, that his presidency will mean the end of the Muslim Brotherhood, adding that the Egyptian people were the ones to abolish the group on June 30 last year.

Egypt’s army, headed by Sisi, ousted Mursi last year in response to mass demonstrations against his rule.

Initial results have shown that Sisi will win the race by a landslide.

Source : Aswat Masriya