The ruling party won 10 seats in the second round of Egypt's parliament elections in a surprisingly poor showing, gaining fewer than its chief rival, the Muslim Brotherhood, according to results released Tuesday. The results, though official, are incomplete, since most of the second round races are still to be decided in a runoff this weekend. A third and final round is to be held on Dec. 1, and the ruling National Democratic Party is expected to keep its strong parliament majority.
But the Brotherhood, Egypt's main Islamic fundamentalist group, has surpassed expectations with its powerful showing, establishing itself as the main opposition, even though it is not a legal party. The Brotherhood won 13 seats in Sunday's second round, bringing its total so far to 47 _ more than tripling its presence in the outgoing 454-member parliament.
The success has increased tensions with the government. Sunday's voting was marred by widespread violence, mostly clashes between Brotherhood members and NDP supporters. At least one person was killed.
Some 490 Brotherhood activists have been detained since the start of the three-stage elections _ most of them on Sunday. Of those, 275 of them have since been released, a police official said Tuesday, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the press.
The government and the Brotherhood have each accused each other of instigating the violence. The Egyptian Organization for Human Rights, an independent group, blamed ruling party supporters.
The government's rights watchdog, the National Council for Human Rights, confirmed other groups' reports of elections irregularities in a report Tuesday on the second round. But it did not say who was behind them. It said several clashes took place, voters were attacks and terrorized from casting their ballots, and that some monitors were barred from entering polling stations or were arrested by police.
A run-off Saturday will decide 121 seats in which no candidate got a majority of the vote in the second round, which was held in nine provinces, the semi-official Middle East News Agency reported, announcing the results so far.
The NDP's 10 confirmed wins Sunday bring its total so far to 122 seats. It is likely to rack up more in the run-off, where it has candidates in every race. The Brotherhood is sending 41 candidates into the runoff, which is being held in many of its strongholds.
But the NDP's showing in Sunday's race was weaker than at the same stage in Nov. 9's first round, held in Cairo and several other provinces. The NDP won 24 seats and the Brotherhood three in that vote before the run-off several days later. Since the Brotherhood is banned in Egypt, its candidates run as independents, though their affiliation with the group is known.
The Muslim Brotherhood calls for implementing Islamic law but has long been vague about what this means. It campaigns for headscarves for women and against immodest dress, for example, but it insists it stands for a more moderate version of Islam than that followed in Saudi Arabia, АР reports.
So far the leading secular opposition parties have been eclipsed in the voting. The centrist Wafd and leftist Tagammu, have won only two seats each, and the centrist al-Ghad has only one.
The strike was defensive in nature and came in response to three attacks on the US military in February