Egypt Islamists explore electoral deal with liberals
* Muslim Brotherhood to contest half of parliament seats
* Alliance with other groups aims to allay liberal concerns
By Yasmine Saleh
CAIRO, June 22 (Reuters) - Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood is exploring an alliance with 17 liberal and other parties that could lead to electoral cooperation, in an apparent move to allay liberal concerns about the Islamist group's goals.
The Brotherhood, Egypt's most organised political force, is widely seen as best prepared for the September parliamentary election as many secular parties struggle to get ready for the first free vote since President Hosni Mubarak's overthrow.
The Brotherhood, officially banned but semi-tolerated under Mubarak, has said it will contest half of parliament's seats, seeking to capitalise on the grass roots networks it has nurtured during decades of medical, social and charity work.
Activists who put national pride before faith in the uprising against Mubarak fear the Brotherhood will dominate politics and seek to impose strict Islamic rules on Egypt.
A statement posted on the Brotherhood's website said it had agreed with other parties "on ways that could lead to a joint election list to include representatives from all members of the alliance that would gain the trust of the Egyptian masses".
Yassin Tageldin, deputy chairman of the liberal Wafd party, said such an electoral deal could be struck if talk of a law forcing candidates to form lists materialised. Continued...