CAIRO - Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood called on its rivals to accept the will of the people on Saturday after a first-round vote set its party on course to take the most seats in the country's first freely elected parliament in six decades.
Preliminary results showed the Brotherhood's liberal rivals could be pushed into third place behind ultra-conservative Salafi Islamists, mirroring the trend in other Arab countries where political systems have opened up after popular uprisings.
The Brotherhood is Egypt's best-organized political group and popular among the poor for its long record of charity work. Banned but semi-tolerated under President Hosni Mubarak, who was toppled on Feb. 11 by a street revolt, the Brotherhood now wants a role in shaping the country's future.
Rivals accused the Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party of using handouts of cheap food and medicine to influence voters and of breaking election rules by lobbying outside voting stations.