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Islamists avoid Egypt confrontation

The leader of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist group expected to dominate the country's next parliament, said it does not seek to get into a power struggle with the ruling military council over the formation of the next government.

Egypt's military, which took control of the country from Hosni Mubarak after his removal in February, is insisting that it - not the parliament - will choose the next prime minister and his Cabinet.

Activists have been pushing the generals to shed their powers over government and deliver the country to full civilian rule.

The Brotherhood, which is leading the first round of parliamentary elections, had said previously it was expecting to form the Cabinet if its lead holds up over subsequent rounds of voting that finish in March.

However, Brotherhood leader Mohammed Badie is now sounding a less confrontational tone.

"We must live in harmony, not only with the military council, but with all of Egypt's factions, or else the conclusion is zero," Mr Badie told Al-Mehwar TV.

"There will be reconciliation between the three powers: the parliament, the government and the military ruling council."

He tried to play down a potential conflict with the military, saying: "They will not insist and we will not insist."

In a clear sign that the military is not giving up its powers over choosing the executive, Gen. Hassan el-Rueini, a member of the military council, said again that the new parliament will not have the authority to form a government. The voting for parliament is being held in stages, with the election for the lower house scheduled to conclude in January and the upper house in March.

The Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party won about 37% of the first-round vote for the lower house, according to partial results released Sunday. The Al-Nour party won nearly a quarter of the vote for the ultraconservative Salafis, who seek to impose strict Islamic law in Egypt. That gave the two leading Islamist blocs an overwhelming majority of the vote, though they may not end up forming an alliance.

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