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Opposition group gains in Egypt

Opposition group gains in Egypt

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CAIRO, Egypt - The Muslim Brotherhood emerged from Egypt's parliamentary elections with nearly 20 percent of the seats in the coming parliament, according to preliminary results Thursday, establishing the banned Islamic movement as a powerful opposition bloc.

The four-week voting concluded Wednesday with violence that killed at least eight people as police blocked voters from polling stations in opposition strongholds. Rights groups and election monitors condemned the police action and questioned the legitimacy of the results.

The Independent Committee on Election Monitoring, based in Egypt, said the violence "shattered any hope for the credibility of the results."

In Wednesday's runoffs, The Brotherhood won 12 seats. The ruling National Democratic Party and its allies took 111 seats, and other opposition parties won two seats, according to preliminary results provided by an official in the Interior Ministry, which oversaw the election. Two seats were undecided, said the ministry official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press.

If confirmed, the latest tallies would give the NDP and its allies 333 seats, or 73 percent of parliament, compared with the 398 it held previously. The Brotherhood would have 88 seats, or 19 percent; other opposition parties and independents would have 21 seats.

Twelve seats are still undecided in the 454-seat parliament; 10 of the seats are appointed by the president.

The results mean the Brotherhood - which is banned but fields nominally independent candidates whose allegiance is known to voters - has won almost six times the 15 seats it held in the outgoing assembly.

The group calls for implementing Islamic law but is vague about what that means. It campaigns for head scarves 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.

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