Egypt PM: vote delay would help post-Mubarak order


Egyptian Prime Minister Essam Sharaf said he backed delaying a parliamentary election due in September which the well-organised Islamists are widely expected to dominate.

Sharaf, who was appointed by the military council ruling Egypt since popular protests drove President Hosni Mubarak from office on February 11, argued that delaying the vote would help efforts to reorder the country.
“It could give more opportunity for political life to crystallise,” Sharaf said in an interview aired by Nile television on Sunday, echoing comments attributed to him by al-Shorouk newspaper on June 13, Reuters reports.

Asked about relations between the cabinet and the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, which has ruled out rescheduling the ballot, he said: “There is coordination. We are in the same boat. All that concerns us is that we deliver this boat safely.”
“All effort will be exerted to ensure successful elections” no matter when they are held, said Sharaf, who added that his comments on the vote were his personal views not necessarily those of the government.

A March referendum found that 77 percent of Egyptians backed constitutional amendments allowing the military to hold the parliamentary election in September and a presidential election before the year’s end.

The Muslim Brotherhood, long in opposition under Mubarak and now widely seen as the party best-placed to make electoral gains, wants the September date kept.

But liberals favouring postponement include the Kefaya (Enough) and Sixth of April movements which campaigned against Mubarak, and parties such as Ghad (Tomorrow), whose founder Ayman Nour lost to Mubarak in the 2005 presidential race.

The political movement set up by Mohamed ElBaradei, former head of the U.N. nuclear agency, has also called for a delay.

The military has denied taking sides in the debate and said it is sticking to a plan to transfer power to civilians by the end of 2011. A new election law has not yet been finalised.