Egypt opposition alliance getting ready for vote

CAIRO Thu Apr 18, 2013 7:52am EDT

Egypt's President Mohamed Mursi answers reporters' questions after meeting European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso (unseen) at the EU Commission headquarters in Brussels September 13, 2012. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

Egypt's President Mohamed Mursi answers reporters' questions after meeting European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso (unseen) at the EU Commission headquarters in Brussels September 13, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Francois Lenoir

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CAIRO (Reuters) - A loose alliance of Egyptian opposition parties said it is preparing to take part in a parliamentary election later this year, a sign that Islamist President Mohamed Mursi's secular opponents may drop plans for a blanket boycott.

The National Salvation Front, an umbrella group formed last year in opposition to the Islamists, said in a statement it was getting ready for the election while pursuing "the struggle" to create the right atmosphere for a free and fair vote.

The grouping of leftist and liberal parties had said it would boycott the election originally called by Mursi for April. The vote was then postponed by a court ruling. Mursi has said the election could now begin in October.

In a statement, the NSF repeated demands for a neutral government to oversee the election and the appointment of a new prosecutor general: the current one is viewed by the opposition as biased in favor of the Brotherhood.

But it did not explicitly threaten a boycott of the vote, in what analysts saw as a recognition that some of its members, such as the liberal Wafd Party, plan to take part regardless.

The NSF said it considered parliamentary elections one of the ways to save the nation "when guarantees that they are free and fair are in place".

The election will decide the make-up of the new lower house of parliament. The previous lower house, led by the Muslim Brotherhood's party, was dissolved last June on the basis of a court ruling that found the election law to be illegal.

The upper house of parliament, which has legislative power, approved a new election law last week. The law was then referred to the Supreme Constitutional Court, which will examine its legality in accordance with the constitution.

(Writing by Tom Perry; Editing by Paul Taylor and Alison Williams)

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