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Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt Parties Threaten Poll Boycott

Egyptian political parties, including the powerful Muslim Brotherhood, have threatened to boycott legislative elections due to begin in November unless Egypt's military rulers change the election law.

The Democratic Alliance, which includes parties across the Egyptian political spectrum, made the boycott threat in a joint statement.

The coalition is demanding a change to a section of the electoral law that prevents political parties from contesting a full one-third of parliament seats that are reserved for independent candidates.

The parties want to be able to contest all seats, and say the current law could enable figures from the ousted regime of former president Hosni Mubarak to enter parliament.

The parties have set a deadline of October 2 for the ruling military council to meet their demands.

Egypt's ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces this week announced that elections would begin November 28.

The Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom And Justice party has emerged as the largest and best organized party in Egypt since Mubarak's regime was toppled in February.

In another development, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said she hoped Egypt's ruling council would lift the emergency law governing the country sooner than the planned date of June, 2012.

"We have encouraged and continue to encourage the (Egyptian) government to lift the state of emergency,” Clinton said after meeting with Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr in Washington.

“The Supreme Council has said that it will be in a position to do so in 2012,” said Clinton. “We hope to see the law lifted sooner than that, because we think that is an important step on the way to the rule of law, to the kind of system of checks and balances that are important in protecting the rights of the Egyptian people, to create the context for free and democratic elections."

The Egyptian emergency law, originally imposed following the assassination of president Anwar Sadat in 1981, was officially extended until June, 2012, days after a mob on September 9 attacked the Israeli Embassy in Cairo.

compiled from agency reports