Two Egyptian ministers held on to their parliamentary seats, according to preliminary results from the first round of legislative elections reported by the state-owned MENA news agency Thursday.
Agriculture Minister Yussef Wali and Parliamentary Affairs minister Kamal al-Shazli both won enough votes to avoid a second round of voting later this month and secured their places in the chamber, a MENA editor explained.
Official results were due later in the day in an election expected to be dominated by the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP), which won all but 13 of the seats in the outgoing parliament.
But a poll of 1,600 people by the pro-government Al-Ahram newspaper's research center said only 85 percent of seats would go to the NDP and their allies this time round, with the rest won by legal opposition parties like the liberal Al-Wafd.
That would give the opposition 67 seats, a large increase from the 13 they won in the 1995 election.
Government newspapers hailed an "incident-free" first day of voting, but opposition newspapers reported that "chaos" and fights had broken out in polling stations.
Islamist candidates and police told AFP Wednesday that some incidents had disrupted voting in the northern city of Alexandria. Other police sources said three people had been injured by an independent parliamentary candidate in the southern region of Sohag.
Egypt's last parliamentary elections were marked by violence that left around 60 people dead.
The opposition denounced that vote for massive fraud, which they said permitted President Hosni Mubarak's NDP to sweep the vote for the People's Assembly.
The current elections will have a member of the judiciary in every polling station in accordance with electoral laws that were amended in July following a lengthy lawsuit filed by a disgruntled former parliamentary candidate.
With some 15,251 polling stations and just 9,000 members of the judiciary, the country has been split into three zones, with voting taking place in three stages for the first time.
Of parliament's 454 seats, 150 are up for grabs in the first of three stages of voting. A runoff will be held on October 24 for those seats not won outright in the first vote.
The first stage, which began Wednesday, covers the governorates of Alexandria and Beheira on the Mediterranean coast; Menoufiya in the Nile Delta; Port Said, Suez and Ismailiya along the Suez canal; Faiyum, southwest of Cairo and Sohag and Qena in southern Egypt.
The second and third stage will follow the October 24 first-stage runoff, with full final results due to be announced in mid-November – CAIRO (AFP)
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