Engineers Syndicate elects new president amid claims of rigging

Maged Kholousy, the top candidate on the Muslim Brotherhood's "Engineers for Egypt" list, has won the presidency of the Engineers Syndicate, but the result has been challenged by members of a competing list, who claim that the Muslim Brotherhood illegally manipulated the election.

The poll was the first in 17 years for the syndicate, which has some 475,000 members and 23 sub-syndicates. The syndicate had been under judicial sequestration, but judicial control was lifted on 14 August.

Thirty-one candidates ran for the position of president, and 209 ran for seats on the syndicate’s board.

The competition centered around two lists: the Engineers Against Sequestration (EAS) list and the Muslim Brotherhood list.

The lists' representatives stressed that their platforms are designed to improve engineers' living standards and regulate the relationship between engineers and their employers.

However, some engineers believe that the two groups have almost identical platforms and that voting is determined by political affiliations.

Kholousy won 51,000 votes, 50.4 percent of the 103,000 votes cast, according to results announced on Sunday. Tarek al-Nabrawi, one of the top candidates on the EAS list, came second in the elections, followed by other independent candidates.

Members of the EAS list filed a report to the attorney general, in which it said the head of the committee supervising the elections ignored complaints about disruptions to electronic registration during the electoral process. As a result, voters became confused, they said. According to indictment, the Muslim Brotherhood was responsible for this disruption and thereby manipulated the election.

The results surprised a large number of syndicate activists, while newspapers have reported talk of a probable run-off between Kholousy and Nabrawi.

The supervising committee announced on Sunday that the Muslim Brotherhood won the syndicate’s presidency and the majority of seats on the board in 14 sub-syndicates in various governorates including Giza, Qalyubiya and Assiut.

However, the EAS won the presidency as well as most of the board seats on the Cairo sub-syndicate.

The Muslim Brotherhood's win in Cairo is a major victory for the Islamist group, as it embraces 35 percent of registered members, says activist inside the syndicate.

“The problems in the electoral process in Cairo were caused by businessmen who wanted to protect their personal interests by preventing the Muslim Brotherhood from winning,” Kholousy told Al-Masry Al-Youm.

Some other governorates, including Alexandria and Qena, are having run-offs to name presidents and members of the sub-syndicates on a date to be defined by the supervising committee, as many are busy with parliamentary elections. The syndicate board is slated to have 61 members.

The Muslim Brotherhood does not normally field candidates for syndicate chairmanships. It prefers to win a majority of seats on governing boards in order to gain control and political power, as it did earlier this year when it swept teachers and pharmacists syndicate elections.

The group seeks wide representation in the 100-member constituent assembly tasked with writing the new constitution following parliamentary elections. The ruling military council has said it would select members of the assembly from among the syndicates and unions.

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