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Last Updated: Sunday, 21 August 2005, 16:08 GMT 17:08 UK
Muslim party urges Egypt to vote
By Magdi Abdelhadi
BBC Arab affairs analyst, Cairo

Supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood stage an anti-Mubarak rally in Cairo. File photo
The Muslim Brotherhood points to the dominance of Mubarak's party
One of Egypt's main political groups, the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, has urged its supporters not to boycott next month's presidential election.

The Muslim Brotherhood is the only opposition organisation which has broad public support.

A call for a boycott could have led to a low turnout, as well as undermining the credibility of the country's first multi-candidate presidential poll.

The issue has split an already weak and fragmented opposition in Egypt.

Secret deal?

The long-awaited statement from the Muslim Brotherhood will most certainly disappoint those who have been calling for a boycott.

Those boycotting the vote object to the constitutional amendment under which Egypt is holding its multi-party presidential election.

The Muslim Brotherhood boycotted the referendum on the amendment.

Like other opposition groups, it argued that the constitutional change was engineered to make it impossible for any contender to seriously challenge the incumbent Hosni Mubarak, who has been in power for 24 years and is running for another six-year term.

Under the amended constitution, the Muslim Brotherhood cannot field a candidate despite the group's popularity.

The statement issued by the group in Cairo repeated well-known criticism of the Egyptian political system and an array of laws that curb political freedom.

But despite that, it urged its supporters to take part in the election.

Several senior members of the group were detained in the run-up to the referendum on the constitution earlier this year. The group's endorsement of the election will most certainly refuel speculation about a secret deal between the government and the Muslim Brotherhood.

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