Muhammad Khalil, a driver for a dissident candidate from the ruling National Democratic Party, was beaten to death by a group of thugs hired by the party's official candidate, said Muhammad Zarai, head of the National Campaign for Monitoring Elections.

The director of Alexandria's Ras al-Tin hospital confirmed that Hasan Husain Hasan's driver died after being admitted to the emergency room, according to an AFP report.

Khalil is the first fatality in Egypt's parliamentary elections, which started on 9 November and whose second phase got under way on Sunday.


Hundreds arrested

Meanwhile, the Egyptian government arrested 300 members of the Muslim Brotherhood hours before legislative elections.

Isam al-Irian confirmed to Aljazeera's correspondent in Egypt that 300 of the Muslim Brotherhood members were arrested in less than 24 hours.

 

"Some representatives of candidates have talked to a counsellor, the head of the committee working in al-Gharbiya governorate, complaining about the arrests that have taken place there," al-Irian told Aljazeera.

"However, he [Counsellor] did nothing and said that the matter would be referred to the high electoral committee," he added.

Al-Irian told Reuters on Sunday that the activists detained overnight included representatives and supporters of Muslim Brotherhood candidates contesting 60 seats in the second stage of the elections.

Police neutrality

The Muslim Brotherhood, which is officially banned but tolerated, had more than doubled its strength in parliament in the first stage, winning 34 of the 164 seats contested earlier this month.

   

Brotherhood deputy leader Muhammad Habib said the arrests indicated a reversal in the neutrality police had shown towards them in the first stage of voting.

   

"It is clear that a type of retreat in the neutrality of the security apparatus has begun," he said.