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Ruling party takes early lead in Egypt’s election

Egypt’s ruling National Democratic Party took an early lead in the first stage of legislative elections this week but a second round of voting will be necessary, the justice minister said Friday.
Members of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood protest alleged irregularities in the first stage of Egypt's parliamentary elections in Cairo on Friday.
Members of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood protest alleged irregularities in the first stage of Egypt's parliamentary elections in Cairo on Friday.Nasser Nuri / AP
/ Source: Reuters

Egypt’s ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) took an early lead in the first stage of legislative elections this week but a second round of voting will be needed to decide most seats, the justice minister said on Friday.

Mahmoud Aboul Leil said the NDP had won 26 of 164 seats contested on Wednesday. Independent candidates won five seats, he said, reading final results of the poll to reporters.

Four of those elected as independents were candidates fielded by the banned but tolerated Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist group said on Friday, underlining its status as the strongest opposition to the NDP.

Turnout was 24.9 percent, Aboul Leil told reporters. NDP winners included Finance Minister Youssef Boutros-Ghali and Parliament Speaker Fathi Sorour. Ayman Nour, head of the opposition Ghad party, lost his Cairo seat to the NDP.

Nour came a distant second to President Hosni Mubarak, head of the NDP, in Egypt’s first multi-candidate presidential election in September.

Aboul Leil said a run-off vote pitting the top two candidates in each of the 133 undecided seats against each other would be held on Tuesday.

The Brotherhood says 42 of its candidates will go into the second round.

Muslim Brotherhood participation
The authorities have given the Brotherhood, banned since 1954, unusual leeway ahead of the elections by allowing it to hold rallies and marches and releasing instead of arresting its activists.

But the Islamist group, along with independent election monitors, complained of irregularities in the voting, including intimidation of voters by NDP supporters.

Opposition groups also complained about mistakes in voter lists.

Police arrested seven men taking part in a Brotherhood protest on Friday against what the demonstrators called the rigging of the elections, a police source said. The arrested men had hit policemen, the source said.

The Brotherhood won 17 seats in parliament in 2000, more than any other opposition group, despite the arrest of its activists and police blocking its supporters from voting.

The elections for parliament’s 444 elected seats will finish in December.