U.S. expresses confidence that Mubarak government wants fair elections

The State Department expressed confidence Monday that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's government wants free and fair balloting without the kind of violence that marred the weekend's voting, which rights activists attributed mainly to government partisans.

At least one person was killed Sunday in widespread polling-place violence that appeared a reaction to major gains made by the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood in the election's first round earlier this month. The independent Egyptian Organization for Human Rights described "ascending violence and thuggery" by supporters of Mubarak's National Democratic Party.

"We have talked to the Egyptian government about this issue and urged them to provide an atmosphere so that these elections may unfold in an atmosphere in which people are able to express themselves freely," department spokesman Sean McCormack said. "And we have every expectation that the Egyptian government shares that goal."

Talking about winners and losers, McCormack noted that the electoral process to reconstitute the 454-seat parliament has another round of voting to go.

So far the big winner is the Brotherhood, which remains officially banned but fields candidates who run as independents. Brotherhood candidates so far have won 42 seats, compared with 15 in the last parliament. That is still far behind Mubarak's party, but the largest opposition grouping.

"There are a number of independent candidates, I believe, that have won seats, as announced by the Egyptian authorities," McCormack said.

"What is important in this election process is that all Egyptians be able to feel as though they are invested in the political process and that they feel as though their vote counts and that the parliament that is elected as a result of these elections reflects the will of the Egyptian people.", AP reported. V.A.

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