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White House Criticizes Egypt Arrests


The White House is criticizing Egypt for arresting opposition politicians before local elections next month. VOA White House Correspondent Scott Stearns has the story.

White House Spokeswoman Dana Perino says President Bush expects Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to ensure that April 8 elections are free and fair.

"We are concerned by a continuing campaign of arrests in Egypt of individuals who are opponents of the current governing party and are involved in the upcoming local elections," she said. "The people of Egypt should be permitted to choose freely among competing candidates. We call on the government of Egypt to cease any actions that would compromise the ability of the Egyptian people to fully exercise their internationally recognized human rights and to participate in a free and fair election."

Egypt's main opposition group says the Mubarak government is undermining its chances in those local elections by registering only 60 of its potential 10,000 candidates.

The parliamentary leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, Mohammed Saad el-Katatni, says 700 of his group's potential candidates have been detained by police since last month.

The Brotherhood has been banned, and its members run as independents.