Muslim Brotherhood wins record 19% of seats in Egypt's parliamentary elections
Over 11 people killed in election clashes
Egypt Islamists make record gains http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/4509682.stm The opposition Muslim Brotherhood have won a record 19% of seats in Egypt's three-round parliamentary elections, preliminary results say.
President Hosni Mubarak's ruling National Democratic Party won over 70% of seats, giving it an important two-thirds majority.
The results in some constituencies are yet to be announced and 12 seats will be contested in further run-offs.
Eight opposition activists were killed in violence on Wednesday.
The Egyptian Organisation for Human Rights said the deaths came during "clashes with security forces which cordoned off polling stations to prevent voters from voting".
Interior ministry spokesman Ibrahim Hammad said Muslim Brotherhood "thugs" were behind the disturbances at 10 polling stations.
Eleven people have now died since the election began on 9 November.
The US has criticised the conduct of the poll, saying it sends the wrong signal about Egypt's commitment to reform.
The banned Muslim Brotherhood, whose candidates stood as independents, won 11 seats in Wednesday's run-off, while the NDP took 111.
The brotherhood will now have a record 87 seats in the 454-strong People's Assembly, almost six times the number it had before.
The Islamists believe they were entitled to more seats and say that rigging and intimidation led to their being beaten in some constituencies.
With the results from some constituencies to be announced later, and seven candidates standing in run-offs, the group may make further gains.
The ruling NDP won at least 314 seats, significantly less than the 404 seats it gained in 2000.
But it has maintained its crucial two-thirds parliamentary majority required to pass constitutional amendments.
The BBC's correspondent in Cairo, Heba Saleh, says the Egyptian authorities have always argued that a party based on religion would deepen sectarian divisions in a country with a sizeable Christian minority.
But with the Muslim Brotherhood now confirmed as the largest opposition force in the People's Assembly, the government must now deal with a party banned from open political activity.
The signs so far, are that the government will continue to resist giving the Brotherhood any form of legal status such as allowing them to become a political party, our correspondent says.
But with almost a fifth of the seats in parliament occupied by Muslim Brothers, the government might find it difficult to continue to arrest members and leaders of the group, on charges of belonging to an illegal organisation, she adds.
The dilemma for the government now, is that if it continues to harass the brotherhood, it will alienate many Egyptians and if it lifts restrictions on them, it could watch them make even more gains.
Boiling point: an Egyptian protester shouts anti-government slogans as riot police deny voters entry to a polling station in Kafr al-Sheikh. Police later began firing tear gas and beating voters with truncheons.
POLICE firing tear gas and rubber bullets blocked voters from reaching polling stations in several electoral districts and at least eight people were reported killed on the violent and chaotic last day of Egypt's fiercely contested parliamentary elections.
Clashes between riot police and irate voters broke out on Wednesday in several towns that were strongholds of opposition to President Hosni Mubarak's National Democratic Party.
Police have increasingly intervened in the parliamentary vote, which was spread out over almost four weeks when it became clear that candidates representing the formally outlawed Muslim Brotherhood would win a significant number of the contested seats.
In Badaway, the Nile Delta home town of one Brotherhood candidate, dozens of police officers blocked the streets and alleys leading to the lone polling station, preventing anyone from voting throughout the day.
Youths occasionally rushed the cordon of black-clad and helmeted police, who fired tear gas and rubber pellets in response.
"Why doesn't the Government just spare everyone the trouble and declare its own candidate the winner and skip the vote?" said Ahmed Farouk, a pharmacist who spent the day videotaping the melees.
"Our experiment in democracy has come to a bad end," said Ghada Shahbender, a monitor for the independent human rights group We Are Watching. She said she toured four polling stations in the Delta region north of Cairo that were shut by police. At one, in the small town of Kafr Mit Bashar, townspeople tried to negotiate with police to let them vote. During the negotiations, the police began firing tear gas and beating voters with truncheons. Several people suffered bloody gashes on their heads and one child's arm was broken, Ms Shahbender said.
Kafr Mit Bashar is a stronghold of a candidate from the opposition Wafd Party who was running against the brother of a member of Mr Mubarak's presidential staff. It was one of a handful of places where Wafd had a chance in Wednesday's runoff election, which followed a first round of balloting last week.
Ahmed Mecci, a judge and election monitor, told reporters in Cairo that police had sealed off 20 polling stations. Ibrahim Hammad, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry, which is in charge of the police, said there were "10 problems" at polling stations due to violent crowds.
There were major clashes in the northern Mediterranean town of Damietta where three men were killed. Three people were killed in Sharqiya province, including a 14-year-old boy and a 22-year-old man shot in the head in the village of Qattawiya when police fired on crowds.
Wednesday's violence fit the pattern of Egypt's zigzag democratisation of the past 14 months. Unprecedented open criticism of, and demonstrations against, Mr Mubarak's 25-year rule have alternated with police crackdowns and arrests.
Many candidates have campaigned freely and then been subject to sudden detention.
The Bush Administration has praised Egypt and Mr Mubarak for instituting democratic political reforms, but its statements about this month-long voting process have at times been critical.