Egypt's main opposition coalition announces boycott of upcoming parliamentary elections.

Associated Press

CAIRO - Egypt's main opposition coalition announced on Tuesday it will boycott upcoming parliamentary elections, a decision likely to deepen the nation's political crisis and worsen an already troubled economy.

The announcement by the liberal and secular National Salvation Front was announced in a televised news conference just hours ahead of the start of a "national dialogue" called for by President Mohammed Morsi to find ways to ensure the "transparency" and "integrity" of the vote.

Leading front member Sameh Ashour, who also heads Egypt's lawyers' union, announced the decision and said the front was also boycotting Tuesday's dialogue.

"We tell Morsi" 'dialogue with yourself. Dialogue with your party'," he said. "The Egyptian people will not accept a dialogue that is imposed."

Called by Morsi last weekend, the elections will start in April and be staggered over a two-month period. Egypt's last legislature was elected in late 2011 and early 2012 but was dissolved by a court ruling in June, leaving the then-ruling military with legislative powers. Morsi took over the powers in August, then passed them in December to the Islamist-dominated upper chamber known as the Shura Council.

The opposition has been calling on Morsi to defuse the nation's political crisis before calling for elections to prevent the country from plunging deeper into chaos. It wants a "neutral" government to replace the one led by Islamist Hesham Kandil, and for steps to be taken to ensure the independence of the judiciary.

The opposition also objects to an election law that was adopted this month by the Shura Council, arguing that it favoured the Islamists, particularly Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood.

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