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Islamists Look to Extend Gains in Egyptian Elections


Egyptian women stand in line waiting to cast their votes at the entrance of an election center in Cairo, Egypt, December 15, 2011.

Egyptian women stand in line waiting to cast their votes at the entrance of an election center in Cairo, Egypt, December 15, 2011.

The second phase of Egypt's parliamentary elections continued Thursday, with Islamist parties looking to extend their already overwhelming electoral gains.

Egyptians turned out in large numbers during the two days of voting to fill seats in the 498-member lower house of parliament. The turnout was dwindling later Thursday, with small lines forming outside polling stations as the voting neared an end after sunset.


Polls are being held in nine areas, including Aswan, Beni Suef, Giza, Ismailia, Suez and Sohag. Nearly 19 million Egyptians were eligible to cast ballots in the second round of the three-phase legislative elections.

The vote appeared peaceful, but groups have reported a few alleged procedural abuses - from parties campaigning at polling stations to officials filling out ballots for voters.

The Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party and the ultraconservative al-Nour Salafi Islamist party, which want Egypt to adhere to the principles of Islamic law, dominated the first round of voting in late November.

A third round of elections covering the remaining nine provinces will take place in early January.

Some in the West are alarmed by the front-running status of Islamist parties. But some Islamists are raising alarms of their own, warning of Western-style freedoms, such as gay marriage, to bring voters to their side in the rural areas.

The parliamentary elections are Egypt's first since a popular uprising ousted long-time President Hosni Mubarak in February.

Elections for parliament's less powerful upper house will begin in late January and finish in March, after which the assembly will write a new constitution.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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