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Last Updated: Tuesday, 6 June 2006, 10:37 GMT 11:37 UK
Egypt asks US body to halt work
Egypt pro-reform political protest
The US and EU have recently criticised Egypt over human rights
Egypt has ordered an American non-governmental organisation which aims to promote democracy to suspend its work in the country.

On Monday, a spokesman called on the International Republican Institute to halt work until it had got permission.

He accused the local head of the institute, Gina London, of interfering in Egypt's internal affairs.

She said in a recent interview that the institute would work to speed up political reform in Egypt.

A lawyer for the group said the controversy resulted from a misunderstanding.

"The institute has not yet started its activities, it is still in the set-up phase," said Omar Hegazi.

"We have almost finished the registration procedures and the file will be ready soon," he said.

The IRI, with offices in more than 60 countries, was founded in 1983. It describes itself as "a private, non-profit organisation dedicated to advancing democracy worldwide".

Brotherhood arrests

Also on Monday, the officially outlawed Egyptian opposition group, the Muslim Brotherhood, said nine of its senior members were arrested on Sunday in a police raid on a research centre in Cairo.

The Brotherhood said documents and computers had also been seized when police entered the centre, which is run by a prominent member of the organisation, Mohammed Mursi.

The Egyptian interior ministry said those arrested had been attending what it called a secret organisational meeting.

Despite the ban on the Muslim Brotherhood, its supporters - running as independents - hold almost 20% of the seats in parliament.

The group says it has faced a backlash from the authorities since last year's elections, with hundreds of its members being arrested.

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