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Originally published Friday, February 22, 2013 at 3:56 AM

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Egypt's Brotherhood criticizes call for boycott

A leading member of Egypt's most powerful Islamist party is criticizing calls by the opposition for a boycott of upcoming parliamentary elections.

The Associated Press

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CAIRO —

A leading member of Egypt's most powerful Islamist party is criticizing calls by the opposition for a boycott of upcoming parliamentary elections.

The deputy head of the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party, Essam el-Erian, wrote on his Facebook page Saturday that "running away from a popular test only means that some want to assume executive authority without a democratic mandate."

His comments come after opposition figure Mohammed ElBaradei called for a boycott of elections, saying he will not be part of a "sham democracy."

The Egyptian president's Brotherhood has emerged as the country's most powerful political group while liberal, secular parties have trailed behind.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

A leading Egyptian opposition figure called on Saturday for a boycott of the country's upcoming parliamentary elections, saying he will not be a part of a "sham democracy."

Mohammed ElBaradei, who leads the main opposition National Salvation Front, wrote on Twitter that he was urging a boycott in the same fashion as he did in 2010 under then-president Hosni Mubarak.

"(I) called for parliamentary election boycott in 2010 to expose sham democracy. Today I repeat my call, will not be part of an act of deception," he wrote Saturday, referring to elections called for by President Mohammed Morsi.

Elections under Mubarak were widely rigged and the chamber was dominated by members of his ruling party. The Muslim Brotherhood, at the time outlawed, won no seats as independents in the 2010 elections. More than 85 percent of seats were instead awarded to Mubarak loyalists.

The call for a boycott of this upcoming vote comes as little surprise since ElBaradei's opposition coalition has warned it would not take part in the elections if certain conditions were not met first. The opposition says it wants a real national dialogue that leads to the formation of a national unity government, changes to the new constitution and peace on the streets.

On the second anniversary of the Jan. 25 uprising this year, anger spilled out onto the streets and violence again engulfed the nation. About 70 people died in a wave of protests, clashes and riots in the past four weeks, and more than half were killed in the city of Port Said alone.

Undeterred by the turmoil, Morsi called for elections to begin in April. His Muslim Brotherhood party hailed the timing of the vote and called on all groups to participate.

The Brotherhood has consistently come ahead in elections since Mubarak's ouster two years ago, while liberal parties have trailed significantly behind. They won nearly half the seats in the first parliamentary elections after the uprising. That body was disbanded on June 14, 2012, after the Supreme Constitutional Court ruled that a third of the chamber's members were elected illegally.

Unlike under Mubarak, foreign groups are allowed to monitor elections in Egypt, but have complained they are not able to monitor them freely. Voting irregularities are still prevalent and critics have complained that election laws, still being hashed out, are being written in favor of the Morsi's Brotherhood supporters.

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