Dozens of the 640 candidates who lost in the first round of elections said they would contest the results of the poll, claiming that the winning candidates in Riyadh were on a list said to be endorsed by religious clerics. 

"The leadership and people of the Arab Kingdom of Saudi Arabia refuse these labels," Interior Minister Prince Nayif bin Abd al-Aziz said late on Saturday of characterisations of the winners in his first comments since results were announced. "We all have religious inclinations and we are all Muslims." 

Local newspapers have characterised the winners as so-called Islamists. Although government-guided, the privately owned papers widely reported the complaints about the so-called Islamic bloc. 

Nayif said it was incorrect to make such classifications and that the results conveyed a free choice. "I strongly object to the press and media that is concentrating on this issue because we do not accept that the choices of the Saudi community be questioned," he added. "This is the outcome of the voters' choice."