Jan 20 (KATAKAMI / VOA) — Egypt’s largest opposition movement, the Muslim Brotherhood, has demanded that President Hosni Mubarak dissolve the country’s newly elected parliament and hold fresh elections, a move that appears to mirror the demands for change sparked by Tunisia’s popular uprising.
In a statement posted on its website Wednesday, the Brotherhood called the Tunisian upheaval “a cornerstone for the rest of the Arab and Islamic world.” It said the revolt sends a message to “all despotic leaders and corrupt regimes that they are not safe.”
The Islamist group called for an end to Egypt’s 30-year-old emergency law that bans political rallies and demanded sweeping constitutional amendments to allow free and fair presidential elections.
The Brotherhood also urged Egypt’s government to fight graft and put corrupt officials on trial, warning that if it does not move fast “stability might not last for long.”
The group failed to win a single seat in last year’s elections after taking home a fifth of the parliamentary seats five years earlier. The Brotherhood – which is banned but runs candidates as independents – and other opposition parties say the vote was rigged.
Opposition movements elsewhere in the region have also seized on events in Tunisia.
The Jordanian wing of the Muslim Brotherhood Tuesday demanded King Abdullah II dissolve that country’s parliament and remove Prime Minister Samir Rifai’s government, saying it has failed to implement needed political and economic reforms.
Islamic Action Front leader Hamza Mansour said elections held November 9 were marred by fraud. In a protest Sunday, thousands of Jordanians called for the downfall of the government, pointing to Tunisia as an example.
The political pressure has been accompanied by a wave of self-immolation protests throughout north Africa.
This week, four Egyptian men attempted to set themselves on fire. One of the men died Tuesday from severe burns. Other recent acts of self-immolation or attempted burnings have been reported in Algeria and Mauritania.
The desperate protests appear to be copying last month’s fatal self-immolation of a 26-year-old unemployed university graduate in Tunisia that triggered widespread riots over unemployment, high food prices and the country’s authoritarian government.
The resulting upheaval forced Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali to flee abroad last Friday, amid calls for his resignation. (*)