The leader of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood is promising to work together with the ruling military council if his party wins Egypt's parliamentary elections.
Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohammed Badie made his comments on the private Al-Mehwar television station on Tuesday as Egypt held a second day of runoff elections for the national parliament. As his party led in the polls, Badie said the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party will work to compromise with the ruling military council and other involved parties.
Meanwhile, Egyptian state-run media reported Tuesday that Prime Minister Kamal el-Ganzouri said the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces will grant him some presidential powers. Mr. Ganzouri said the army will amend the constitution to grant him the powers. The decision comes after critics accused the military ruling council of not giving the last cabinet enough influence.
State-run media report that Mr. Ganzouri is scheduled to announce on Wednesday new members of the “national salvation government” that he has been forming. Many criticize the military ruling council's appointment of Ganzouri — who served under ousted president Hosni Mubarak.
The country's future parliament took shape as as voting continued through Tuesday for the 52 individual seats in Cairo, Alexandria and seven other provinces. Twenty-four of the races are a contest between candidates from Egypt's two main Islamist groups: the Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party and the ultraconservative Salafist Nour Party.
Witnesses said tensions between rival Islamist parties were high in some districts, with Nour Party supporters ordering Brotherhood campaign workers to leave areas around polling stations. Egypt's military has ruled polling station zones off limits to campaigners from all parties to try to ensure a fair vote.
The two Islamist parties are seeking to build on strong results from last week's party-list vote, held at the same time as the first round of voting for individual candidates. Party-list results released Sunday put the Freedom and Justice Party in the lead with 37 percent, with the Nour Party in second place at 24 percent and the liberal Egyptian Bloc Party in third place with 13 percent.
The Salafist Nour Party advocates a strict interpretation of Islam that calls for segregation of the sexes, the full veiling of women and a ban on alcohol. Nour's strong election results have worried many liberal Egyptians who see it as a threat to their civil liberties.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Tuesday Washington expects all “democratic actors” in Egypt to uphold universal human rights, including women's rights, and to allow free religious practice. She was speaking at a European forum in the Lithuanian capital, Vilnius.
Clinton also called on Egypt's military rulers to ensure that free and fair voting continues through the next election rounds, and to “expeditiously” transfer “real authority” to a new civilian government. The military took control of Egypt after a popular uprising forced autocratic president Hosni Mubarak to quit in February.
Egypt's remaining 18 provinces will join the voting for the lower house of parliament in two stages in the coming weeks. Elections for parliament's less-powerful upper house will begin in late January and finish in March.
Voter turnout for the runoffs appeared lower on Monday and Tuesday than for the first round of voting on November 28-29. Egypt's election committee also lowered its estimate of the first-round turnout from 62 percent to 52 percent.
The Nour Party quit an electoral alliance with the Brotherhood before the election and has given no sign of wanting to renew the partnership in parliament. The secretary general of the Brotherhood's FJP, Saad el-Katatni, told The Associated Press his party will try to form a broad coalition that includes liberal groups and new Islamist factions.
The Brotherhood was officially banned for decades under Mr. Mubarak. Its members engaged in politics as independents while establishing a nationwide network of charities popular with millions of impoverished people.
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