Egypt opposition needs time, or Islamists will win

Tue Feb 15, 2011 5:44am GMT

By Tom Perry

CAIRO (Reuters) - The Muslim Brotherhood will be the only group in Egypt ready for a parliamentary election unless others are given a year or more to recover from years of oppression, said a former Brotherhood politician seeking to found his own party.

Abou Elela Mady broke away from the Brotherhood in the 1990s. He tried four times to get approval for his Wasat Party (Centre Party) under President Hosni Mubarak's rule, but curbs on political life prevented him doing so.

"They turned political life into a farce," said Mady, who likens the ideology of his party to that of Turkey's ruling AK Party, which has roots in political Islam but appeals to a wider electorate including more secular middle class elements as well as religious conservatives.

Mubarak had sought to bring about the "political death" of Egyptian society, Mady said.

After 15 years of trying, Mady hopes the Wasat Party will finally come into being on Saturday, when a court is scheduled to rule on an appeal marking the latest round of his battle with the Egyptian authorities.

After Mubarak's 30 years in power, the only political forces left standing in Egypt are the state and the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist group founded in the 1920s and which has deep roots in Egypt's conservative Muslim society.

"If parliamentary elections happen now, the only party ready are the Muslim Brotherhood. As for the rest, they are not," Mady said. "We have had dialogue with all the parties. We ask for a transitional period for a year in which there is freedom for parties and organisations," he said.

Mubarak's administration used tools including emergency laws to suppress politics. The officially-recognised opposition parties have little support.   Continued...

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