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Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood conservatives win vote

By on December 22, 2009

Egypt’s main opposition group announced the results of an election for its governing body and analysts said most of the 16 members are conservatives, signalling that it will reduce its role in mainstream politics.

The Muslim Brotherhood’s new governing body excludes several key members considered to be moderates, analysts said. The group is banned in Egypt and its conservative members believe its survival is more important than its political impact.

“The results of these elections signal the immediate regression of political activity of the group in the coming period,” political analyst Diaa Rashwan told Reuters.

The new governing body is likely to focus on social and religious grassroots work and avoid open confrontation with the state, Rashwan said.

President Hosni Mubarak’s government has been squeezing the Brotherhood out of mainstream politics and has made it nearly impossible for the group to put up a candidate to succeed him.

The Brotherhood won a fifth of the seats in parliament in 2005 with members standing as independents.

Last week’s internal election was the first for 14 years. An election in 1995 sparked a government crackdown and the first military trial for the Brotherhood during Mubarak’s rule.

That the group’s internal elections were held openly without a state crackdown this time indicates the regime’s tacit approval of the new governing body, political analyst Khalil El Anani told Reuters.

“It is a game,” he said. “The regime knows the elections will lead to division and conflict inside the movement and the conservative wing taking over.”

Senior members had said the elections violated the Brotherhood’s internal rules. Most members of the group’s shura, the council responsible for mapping policies, nonetheless agreed to go ahead.

Some young members of the Brotherhood denounced the election results, saying it stamped out the reformist camp within the group by excluding its deputy leader Mohamed Habib and former leading moderate member Abdel-Moneim Abul-Futuh.


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