CAIRO,(Reuters) – Egypt”s opposition Islamists increased their seats in parliament nearly six-fold after an election marred by violence, but President Hosni Mubarak”s party retained a big majority, official results showed on Thursday.
A rights group said at least eight people were killed on Wednesday in clashes with security forces who cordoned off polling stations in areas with strong Muslim Brotherhood support.
The Brotherhood says it won 11 seats, bolstering its parliamentary bloc in the month-long elections to 87 — its strongest showing ever. The results were nearly six times its strength in the outgoing chamber and more than double its wins in its previous strongest showing in 1987.
"There are results which were rigged," deputy Brotherhood leader Mohamed Habib told Reuters. But "it is an achievement despite these dramatic conditions," he told Reuters.
The United States criticised the conduct of the elections in its Middle East ally, saying events during the voting raised "serious concerns" about the path of liberal reforms in Egypt.
President Hosni Mubarak”s ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) won 102 seats on Wednesday, results showed, giving it more than 70 percent of the places in parliament and securing its two-thirds majority control of the chamber as expected.
The NDP wins were boosted by the return to the party of members who broke ranks to contest seats as independents against officially endorsed candidates.
The officially banned Brotherhood only contested a third of the 444 elected seats so as not to provoke the government, which launches frequent crackdowns on the Arab world”s oldest Islamist movement.
Brotherhood candidates contest seats as independents because they are not allowed to form a party.
The authorities gave the Brotherhood unprecedented leeway in the early stages of the voting but rounded up hundreds of its campaign workers and restricted voting in the latter stages. The group said this was an attempt to cap its gains.
The Egyptian Organisation for Human Rights said eight people were killed in violence on Wednesday in "clashes with security forces which cordoned off polling stations to prevent voters from voting".
The new deaths raised to 11 number of people killed during the elections, which started on Nov. 9. Ten people were killed in violence in the last elections in 2000.
Independent monitors have reported wide use of coercion and bribery by the NDP during the elections. Men in civilian clothes hurled chunks of concrete at Islamist supporters waiting outside some polling stations on Wednesday.
Brotherhood and NDP supporters threw rocks at each other on Wednesday. The authorities have blamed Islamist supporters for the violence and say police remained neutral during the voting.
The Islamists” programme calls for more freedoms and Islamic sharia law in Egypt.
While they were able to demonstrate some depth of their support, secular opposition parties won only a handful of seats.
Dia el-Din Dawoud, leader of the Arab nationalist and leftist Nasserite party, lost his seat on Wednesday. Ayman Nour, head of the liberal Ghad Party, lost his Cairo seat in the early stages of voting.