CAIRO - A liberal Egyptian party co-founded by telecom tycoon Naguib Sawiris said on Monday it would boycott upper house elections later this month in protest against what it says were violations committed by Islamist parties in earlier voting rounds.
A strong showing by the Muslim Brotherhood and the ultra-conservative Salafis pushed liberal groups, including Sawiris's Free Egyptians Party (FEP), into third and fourth place in three rounds of voting for the lower house, with run-offs set to complete voting for the main part of the assembly this week.
The FEP's withdrawal could be a major blow to the Egyptian Bloc, an alliance of liberal and leftist groups of which it is a key member. The Egyptian Bloc is expected to win at least nine percent of seats in the lower house, where Islamists so far claim at least 60 percent.
The FEP called on other parties to join it in boycotting the Shura Council election and it was not immediately clear whether the Egyptian Bloc would run without one of its main parties.
"The process turned into a religious competition rather than an electoral one..." the FEP said in a statement, adding that the results did not accurately express the will of Egyptians.