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Egypt Ruling Party Leads Poll, Islamists Fail to Win

Egypt’s ruling National Democratic Party has the lead in the country’s parliamentary election while its main Islamist rival has so far failed to win a single seat.

The party of President Hosni Mubarak is leading the polls across the country, the state-run Middle East News Agency reported today, citing initial results. The Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s biggest opposition group, said its candidates have failed to win any seats outright and 16 will stand in run-offs to be held Dec. 5. The group had 88 seats, or about a fifth of the total, in the outgoing parliament.

The initial results are “a scandal in which the National Democratic Party has lost all measures of integrity and democracy,” the Islamist group, which has accused the NDP of rigging the vote, said on its website today. The ruling party has denied all allegations of vote-rigging. The High Election Commission said yesterday any violations won’t affect the outcome, which will be announced tomorrow.

President Mubarak, in power since 1981, hasn’t announced whether he will run for another six-year term in 2011. Opposition groups including the Brotherhood have said that the president is grooming his son, Gamal, a senior NDP official, to succeed him. Both men deny this.

The lack of a designated successor to Mubarak, 82, has fueled concern that a succession crisis may lead to political unrest. That could endanger foreign investment needed to create jobs and expand output in the most populous Arab country.

Presidential Poll

Analysts, including Amr El-Shobaki at the Cairo-based Al Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, say the government wants to drive the Brotherhood out of politics ahead of next year’s presidential election that may see the first change of leadership in three decades.

The election saw a number of violations including vote- rigging, violence and obstruction of opposition candidates, human rights groups said.

“There was no election,” Magdy Abdel-Hamid, a member of one of two coalitions comprising seven local rights groups, said at a joint news conference in Cairo. “There was chaos, there were acts of thuggery and there was violence.”

New York-based Human Rights Watch said it had received reports of “numerous” violations during yesterday’s vote. These included authorities detaining journalists and preventing the staff of opposition candidates from entering 30 polling stations the group visited, it said in a statement distributed to reporters today in Cairo.

As many as three people were killed as a result of the election violence, said Hafez Abu Seada, chairman of the Cairo- based Egyptian Organization for Human Rights, at the press conference today. Interior Ministry spokesman Tarek Atiyya said yesterday that no deaths occurred as a result of the electoral process.

To contact the reporter on this story: Alaa Shahine in Cairo at asalha@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Peter Hirschberg at phirschberg@bloomberg.net.

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