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Egypt’s Islamists consolidate lead in final round of polling

By Ramadan Al-Fatash –

CAIRO — Egypt’s Islamists have stretched their lead in the final round of the country’s landmark parliamentary election, official results showed on Saturday.

The party lists of the Muslim Brotherhood, the country’s best-organized political group, came out on top in seven of the nine governorates where the balloting was held on Jan. 3-4, according to state television.

The group also secured six out of 50 seats contested by individual candidates in the same round, reported the broadcaster.

In second place was Al-Nour, a hard-line Salafist party that took the lead in the other two governorates, and won one seat for single candidates.

The remaining 43 seats will be the focus of a run-off vote set for Jan. 9-10, said the television.

The election, Egypt’s first since former president Hosni Mubarak’s overthrow last February, is based on a complex system.

Two-thirds of the new parliament’s seats are allocated for party lists on a proportional representation basis, as the remainder is reserved for individual candidates.

The voter turnout in the final round was 62 percent, Election Commission chief Abdel Moaez Ibrahim said on Saturday.

Liberals have trailed third in the three stages of the legislative polls, mainly in rural districts where the Islamists have a strong support.

Full and final results are to be announced later in January.

Banned and oppressed under Mubarak, the Islamists had gained more than 65 percent of the votes in the previous two stages of the staggered election that began on Nov. 28.

They are widely expected to dominate the new parliament, the prime task of which is to pick a commission to draft a new constitution for Egypt.

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