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Middle East
Poll gains for Egypt's ruling party
Opposition Muslim Brotherhood fails to win seats in the first round of parliamentary vote marred by fraud claims.
Last Modified: 01 Dec 2010 11:40 GMT
Amnesty International says there has been eight deaths related to the polls [Reuters]

Egypt's ruling party has captured nearly all seats in parliament that were decided in a first round of disputed elections, according to official results.

The National Democratic Party won 209 of 221 seats in Sunday's polls. The Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's largest opposition group, failed to win a single seat.

Before the results were announced, the Brotherhood had said 26 of its candidates would stand in the second round of voting on December 5, when the 287 remaining seats are to be filled.

But Essam al-Erian, a senior member of the group, told Reuters news agency on Tuesday that they were "currently discussing whether we will continue to run in the runoff or withdraw".

The group is outlawed in Egypt under a ban on religious parties and fields candidates as independents.

The election has been marred by numerous claims of irregularities such as vote-rigging and intimidation of opposition supporters.

Fraud claims rejected

But the electoral commission dismissed the Brotherhood's claim that the vote was "rigged and invalid".

"The commission categorically rejects the allegations that the election was marred by fraud," Sameh el-Kashef, a commission spokesman, told a news conference.

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"While the commission regrets that certain irregularities took place, it is satisfied with the fact that these irregularities did not impact on the transparency of the first round of the election."

Kashef said that only 1,053 ballot boxes out of 89,588 had been discarded and put turnout at 35 per cent.

Hafez Abu Saada, the head of the Egyptian Organisation for Human Rights, had previously said voter turn out was no more than 15 per cent.

Four small legal opposition parties won five seats between them and seven went to independents who are not affiliated with the Brotherhood.

Analysts said the government wants to push the Brotherhood to the margins of formal politics before next year's presidential race.

The group won a fifth of the seats in parliament in the last election in 2005, but a sustained government crackdown has since weakened the group.

US 'dismayed'

The US has criticised the conduct of the poll.

"We are disappointed by reports in the pre-election period of disruption of campaign activities of opposition candidates and arrests of their supporters, as well as denial of access to the media for some opposition voices," Philip Crowley, the state department spokesman, said on Monday.

"We are also dismayed by reports of election-day interference and intimidation by security forces."

The Egyptian foreign ministry spokesman on Wednesday dismissed the criticism from the US as "unacceptable interference in Egypt's internal affairs".

The spokesman urged the Americans to "be more objective and careful in their stances and reactions, in order not to give a chance to those who want to harm the strong ties between the two countries."

Amnesty International said there had been eight election-related deaths and scores of injuries, mostly during clashes between rival parties.

Source:
Agencies
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