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Voting Irregularities Mar Egypt Vote

Hundreds of opposition Muslim Brotherhood supporters alleging electoral fraud make a standoff with riot police outside a counting center in the Shubra el-Kheima neighborhood of Cairo, Egypt, 28 Nov 2010

Egypt's main opposition group says the ruling party of President Hosni Mubarak has heavily defeated its candidates in a parliamentary election it says was rigged.

The banned Muslim Brotherhood said Monday none of its candidates won a seat outright in the first round of elections, and just a few garnered enough votes to contest a seat in a runoff on December 5.

While the Muslim Brotherhood is illegal in Egypt, its candidates are tacitly allowed to run as independents. In 2005, the party won one-fifth of the parliamentary seats.

Charges of ballot stuffing, voter intimidation and fraud marred Sunday's parliamentary elections.

Voters and opposition campaigners reported that ballot boxes were filled to the brim only minutes after the polls opened. Others cited instances of police intimidation and bribery.

Supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood protested after polls closed in the Nile Delta city of Mahalla El Kubra, near Alexandria.

Sunday's voting also saw sporadic violence in the capital, Cairo, and in the southern city of Qena, as protesters clashed with riot police who fired tear gas.

Egypt's High Elections Commission, a body of judges and parliamentary nominees, said complaints of voting irregularities were being examined but were not serious enough to question the vote's legitimacy.

Early estimates show another low turnout of the country's 41 million registered voters. Official estimates place Sunday's election turnout at about 25 percent, similar to the 2005 election turnout of 22 percent. Rights groups, however, place voter turnout in Sunday's election at about 12 percent.

The run-up to Sunday's vote was also dogged by charges of harassment and intimidation. Several hundred Muslim Brotherhood members were arrested in the latest in a series of crackdowns on the group.

Although the government promised a free and fair election, it barred international monitors, calling them an infringement of its sovereignty.

Mr. Mubarak's National Democratic Party is poised to win a solid majority of the 508 elected seats.

Ten additional seats are filled by the president.

Egypt is scheduled to hold a presidential election next year. Mr. Mubarak, who is 82 and has been president since 1981, has not said whether he will run for re-election.

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

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