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Egyptian election a stride toward democracy in Mideast-senator

MOSCOW, September 7 (RIA Novosti) - Egypt's first contested presidential election is a stride toward advancing democracy in the Greater Middle East, a Russian senator and expert on international affairs said at a press conference Wednesday.

Mikhail Margelov, chair of the foreign relations committee in the Federation Council, parliament's upper house, said even though incumbent Hosni Mubarak's victory is a foregone conclusion, the mere fact that Egypt has started building a legislative basis for the procedure is remarkable in its own right.

Margelov acknowledged that Wednesday's election in Egypt cannot be regarded as absolutely free and fair, as there were no candidates that could really challenge Mubarak, who has been ruling the country for 24 years. But the Russian senator said he was certain that the election model tried in the latest polls will eventually benefit Egypt and the entire region. It may take quite a while for this model to become a factor in Egyptian political culture, but its launch will surely make a positive impact on Egypt and its neighbors, he said.

Saudi Arabia will be experiencing changes for the democratic better in the future and post-Saddam Iraq is trying to build a constitutional democracy, Margelov said, adding that he expected the Egyptian model to have a positive effect on both countries.

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