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Backers of Egypt’s toppled leader to boycott vote

April 27, 2014

CAIRO (AP) — Supporters of Egypt’s ousted Islamist president said Sunday they will boycott the country’s upcoming presidential elections as a court sentenced 40 people to up to 15 years in prison over charges linking them to violent demonstrations last summer.

An alliance led by the Muslim Brotherhood, the group which toppled President Mohammed Morsi hails, said in a statement that the presidency is “not vacant” and called the upcoming May 26-27 election a “farce.”

Former Field Marshal Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, who led the overthrow of Morsi in July after millions demonstrated against him, is the front-runner in the upcoming elections. He faces Hamdeen Sabahi, a former left-leaning presidential candidate.

The Brotherhood-led alliance also boycotted Egypt’s January vote on a new constitution, which saw nearly 20 million people overwhelmingly support the new charter.

Egypt has been plagued by unrest and militant attacks since the July overthrow. Egypt’s military-backed interim government has launched a sweeping campaign against Morsi’s backers and Brotherhood members, killing hundreds and jailing thousands.

On Sunday, an Egyptian court in the southern province of Minya sentenced 42 Muslim Brotherhood supporters to prison terms ranging from three to 15 years. The court found the defendants guilty of assaulting security forces, blocking roads and damaging public properties.

The arrests came after violent protests erupted across the country in retaliation to the violent disbursement of two pro-Morsi sit-ins on Aug. 14.

The government has branded the Brotherhood group as a terrorist organization and blamed it for a wave of bombings and suicide attacks that have left dozens of policemen dead and injured. The group denies any link to violence. An al-Qaida-inspired group named Ansar Beit al-Maqdis has claimed responsibility for many of the attacks.

Update hourly