Egypt Islamists fail to win seats, (BBC)
Friday, December 2,2005 00:00
By (BBC)

Egypt Islamists fail to win seats 
Riot police restricted access to some polling stations
Egypt’s opposition Muslim Brotherhood failed to win a single seat outright in the final round of parliamentary elections held on Thursday.
But 35 independents standing on behalf of the banned group did win places in next Wednesday’s run-off vote.

President Hosni Mubarak’s ruling National Democratic Party won six seats, and 45 of its candidates will contest the run-off.

Thursday’s poll was marred by clashes between police and opposition members.

One opposition activist was shot dead and another wounded north of Cairo as police opened fire on voters.

Riot police blocked entry to polling stations in some Muslim Brotherhood and opposition strongholds.

The elections are being seen as a potential watershed for Egypt after the technically-banned brotherhood made gains in previous rounds.

The group increased its presence in parliament five-fold, taking it to 76 MPs.

Brotherhood blames authorities

Intisar Nasim, secretary general of the higher parliamentary election commission, said that independent candidates not allied to the brotherhood or NDP won four seats, while the secular opposition Wafd Party gained one.

The Muslim Brotherhood’s deputy leader, Khairat al-Shatir, said the government was to blame for the group’s failure in the third round.

Voters resorted to using ladders to get into a polling station in Bosat

"They don’t want us to exceed 20% of the seats in order to retain a comfortable majority for themselves," Mr Shatir told the Associated Press.

Mr Shatir warned the government against intimidating voters and blocking reform.

"The people’s frustration and loss of hope, the feeling that peaceful change is blocked... will result in more violence," he added.

The group rejected accusations from the Egyptian interior ministry that its supporters were responsible for the violence on Thursday.

An independent monitoring group also criticised the authorities for targeting the opposition.

"There has been yet another increase in the specific targeting of the opposition, including a greater number of arrests, planned violence, massive disenfranchisement - primarily of Muslim Brotherhood supporters and Nasserists - and biases of the security forces," The Independent Committee on Election Monitoring said.

The election run-off on Wednesday will decide the remaining 85 seats.