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Well, that's what they already do.  They can't actually back candidates as a party since they're officially a banned organization, but they back candidates that run as independents, who run with the same campaign slogan and are openly acknowledged as members of the Brotherhood.  But in this local election, the mechanisms of the state and the ruling party went to extreme lengths to keep everyone associated with the Brotherhood off the ballots -- there were 52,000 local council seats theoretically up for grabs, and the Brotherhood tried to back 10,000 candidates, and in the end they only got 20 on the ballots.  That's not a typo -- it's really 20 out of 52,000.

The Brotherhood knew this was going to happen to some extent, but they were even surprised by how far it went this time.  They had actually admitted that they were going to try to get "secret" candidates on the ballots, people whose affiliation with the Brotherhood was not publicized, but the NDP and the government (which are really the same thing) basically kept everyone off the ballots except people from their own ranks and a tiny number of people from established (but minor) opposition parties.  The so-called "independent" candidates who did run were mainly members of the NDP who quit the party having failed to secure its nomination, and who will re-join the party if elected.  (This happens in every election -- the NDP isn't really a party, it's a group of mercenaries.)

I've seen a lot of joke elections in my time, but this is the worst one.

by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Wed Apr 9th, 2008 at 11:47:45 AM EST
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Crikey, that's worse than I imagined. No wonder the place has become a powder keg.

Mind you, this kind of ballot rigging is becoming the "acceptable" face of electoral abuse and, whilst it works for a while, it just makes the resolution more violent and destructive. Nobody benefits, but the despots can't resist clinging on for just one more election.

It's terrifyng to think how much of a mess the world will become in a few years and any solution is impossible cos the vested interests won't allow it.

ps Can't find out easily but aren't there significant freshwater wetlands in SW Africa somewhere ? Can't they become cultivated for rice ? Just a thought.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Apr 9th, 2008 at 12:00:41 PM EST
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This is all part of a plan -- they revised the constitution last year to require that any independent candidate for president must be backed by at least 140 local councilors (10 from each province) -- so now the claim will be that the Brotherhood (or any other party) can't back a candidate, only the NDP can because only the NDP has the councilors to do so.  There are similar requirements for the People's Assembly and the borderline useless Shura Council, which are the upper and lower houses of parliament -- the Brotherhood has enough deputies in the lower house, but they were all but shut out of the Shura Council elections by blatant rigging.

So voila, in the next presidential election (when, one assumes, the NDP candidate will be Gamal Mubarak, the current president's son) nobody will be able to meet the constitutional requirements and field a candidate, but it will all be perfectly "legal."

But the food riots in Mahalla (and my understanding is that it really seems to have been food riots by unemployed youth, not labor riots by striking workers) are really not about the Brotherhood.  The MB is not affiliated with the striking workers of Mahalla -- they are more closely associated with the leftists, although not entirely so, and some of them are actually members of the NDP as well.  But the Mahalla thing is emphatically not a Brotherhood-related matter.

Re: rice in southern Africa... There's the Okavango Delta, which is almost entirely a protected wilderness and wildlife area, with some mining concessions.  Both mining and tourism are more lucrative for Botswana (which is one of the most water-impoverished countries on earth) than agriculture likely ever will be, and then there's the whole issue of what to do with the elephants, zebras, rhinos, wild dogs, lions, cheetahs, etc....  Hard to really do crop cultivation around so many predators and rompy-stompy herds of elephants.

by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Wed Apr 9th, 2008 at 12:22:31 PM EST
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It's worth looking at Wikipedia on the Okovango Delta. A place I now understand better than I did.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Apr 17th, 2008 at 08:39:55 AM EST
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