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Last Updated: Monday, 18 July, 2005, 14:45 GMT 15:45 UK
Egypt dissident to boycott vote
By Lucy Williamson
BBC News, Cairo

Egyptian human rights activist Saad Eddin Ibrahim
Saad Eddin Ibrahim called the election a farce
A prominent Egyptian human rights activist has said he will be boycotting September's presidential elections.

Saad Eddin Ibrahim said he would not run in protest at the continuing lack of political freedom in the country.

He had previously said he would run against incumbent President Hosni Mubarak, who is seeking a fifth term.

He now says he will focus on monitoring the poll, the first in which Egyptian voters will be able to choose from more than one candidate.

Mr Ibrahim told reporters he refused to be part of what he called a farcical electoral process.

He said some in the outside world had been deceived by the cosmetic and token changes in the country, but that Egypt's new election laws effectively prevented independent candidates from taking part.

His criticism comes just days after another public figure, author Nawal al-Saadawi, confirmed she would not be running either.

Neither was seen as a serious candidate for the presidency, but Miss Saadawi said she had hoped the presidential race would offer Egypt the chance of a serious political dialogue.

Instead, she said she would not even bother casting her vote.

Egypt recently changed its constitution to let opposition candidates run for president.

But it also passed a series of laws maintaining the country's restrictions on political freedom.

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