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Egypt upper house election marred by violence, arrests

[JURIST] Egyptian police reportedly prevented voters from entering polling stations and arrested approximately 100 members from the banned opposition Muslim Brotherhood [party website; FAS backgrounder] Monday as Egypt held elections for the Shura Council [Wikipedia backgrounder], the upper house of the Egyptian parliament. Some voters also reported the government pressured them to cast ballots for the National Democratic Party (NDP) [official website], which is headed President Hosny Mubarak [official profile]. Eighty-eight seats on the 265-member Council are open in the direct elections this year. One hundred seventy-six representatives are chosen by direct elections and another 88 representatives are appointed by Mubarak. The Muslim Brotherhood is fielding 19 candidates, who run as "independents" because of the Muslim Brotherhood's banned status.

Egyptian police are estimated to hold over 800 Muslim Brotherhood members [JURIST report] in custody. The Brotherhood says that the government is trying to disrupt its campaign to elect members into the Shura Council, while the Egyptian government accuses the organization of trying to create an Islamic theocracy through violence. Last Monday, a military trial of 40 senior members of the Brotherhood resumed [JURIST report] despite criticism from Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website]. The 40 defendants were initially acquitted of all charges in January in a civilian criminal court, but were rearrested shortly following their release. AP has more.

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