Muslim Brotherhood doubles its seats in Egypt's parliament

The Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's leading Islamic group, has more than doubled its representation in parliament after only the first of three rounds of polling. Initial results from Tuesday's runoff polls show that the Muslim Brotherhood won 30 seats while the ruling National Democratic Party won 50 seats, the semi-official Middle East News Agency reported, quoting judges in counting stations. The result was "a shock," said Abdel Gelil el-Sharnoubi, the editor of the Brotherhood's Web site. "I'm now praying to God to protect us from future government wrath."

A member of the NDP's policy-making committee conceded the results were a blow.

The NDP's tally, however, is likely to rise as many of the 45 independents who won Tuesday are former members of the party who stood alone after failing to win the party's nomination. Such independents usually rejoin the party at the end of the elections. Other opposition parties and groups scored eight seats, MENA reported.

The runoffs were called to decide the 133 seats where no candidate won more than half the vote in the polls on Nov. 9, the first round in the four-week elections.

The combined results of the runoffs and last week's polls show the Brotherhood has already captured 34 seats in parliament, more than double the 15 it held in the outgoing assembly. This confirms its position as the biggest single opposition group to President Hosni Mubarak's government.

An analyst at the Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, Amr Choubaki, said he did not expect the Brotherhood to fare so well.

As a banned organization, the Brotherhood is not allowed to run as a political party, but it fields candidates who stand as independents, the AP reports.

Scattered violence and allegations of rigging marred the runoffs. Angry supporters of an independent candidate torched the headquarters of the ruling party in the low-income district of Imbaba, Cairo, after hearing that their man had lost, a police official said, speaking on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to speak to the media.

The supporters of Abdel Moneim Emara, the independent candidate in the Imbaba runoff, toured the neighborhood chanting: "I swear by Egypt's sky and soil, the NDP has ruined things!" A.M.

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