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Islamists avoid Egypt confrontation

The Muslim Brotherhood's political party says it has won a majority of the seats up for grabs in Egypt's elections, which would give it at least 40% of the seats in parliament decided so far.

The Freedom and Justice Party said in a statement that it had won 36 of the 56 seats awarded to individual candidates in voting which concluded on Tuesday.

The Islamist group had already won 37% of the vote in earlier polling, which awarded seats according to party lists.

The voting for the 498-member parliament is staggered over three stages, finishing in March, with two-thirds of the country yet to cast ballots.

Islamist parties have so far dominated the first election since the removal of Hosni Mubarak in February, with liberal parties trailing.

Egypt's military, which took control of the country from Mubarak, 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 Muslim Brotherhood had said previously it was expecting to form the cabinet if its lead holds up over subsequent rounds of voting, but Brotherhood leader Mohammed Badie is now sounding a less confrontational tone.

He said the party does not want to get into a power struggle with the ruling military council over the formation of the next government.

"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 said. 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, General Hassan el-Rueini, a member of the military council, said again that the new parliament will not have the authority to form a government.


From Belfast Telegraph