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Egypt's PM Prefers Delay in Parliamentary Vote

Egyptian Prime Minister Essam Sharaf (file photo)

Egyptian Prime Minister Essam Sharaf (file photo)

Egypt's prime minister says he would prefer a delay in parliamentary elections, scheduled for September, until a new constitution is drafted.

Essam Sharaf says despite his personal preference for a delay, the interim government will do everything it can to ensure a successful election, whenever it is scheduled.

Sharaf's remarks come amid a growing campaign by liberal and secular groups that a September vote would be unfairly advantageous to the Muslim Brotherhood.

Some fear a parliament dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood could result in a document with an Islamist slant.

The Muslim Brotherhood is one of the country's best organized political groups.

In May, the Brotherhood announced it had formed a new political entity called the Freedom and Justice Party. A spokesman said the party would contest about half of the parliamentary seats in the upcoming election.

The Muslim Brotherhood, which was legally banned for decades, ran its candidates as independents in previous parliamentary elections. The group controlled about one-fifth of Egypt's lower house after 2005 elections, but was virtually shut out of parliamentary elections last year. The political movement was declared legal earlier this month.

Egyptian authorities, under former President Hosni Mubarak, arrested hundreds of Muslim Brotherhood supporters ahead of that voting.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and AFP.