'Islamist success in Egypt is democracy at work'

"You cannot have democracy and then amend or reject the results," says front-runner for presidency Amr Moussa of election results.

December 4, 2011 13:32
2 minute read.
Egyptian Arab League Chief Amr Moussa

Arab League chief Amr Moussa Egypt 311 (R). (photo credit: REUTERS/Abdallah Dalsh)

CAIRO - Amr Moussa, a front-runner for Egypt's presidency, said on Sunday the strong Islamist showing in the first parliamentary election since army generals replaced Hosni Mubarak in February had to be accepted as democracy in action.

"I am happy about the application of the democratic process, the beginning of democracy," said Moussa, a former Mubarak-era foreign minister and secretary-general of the Arab League.

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"You cannot have democracy and then amend or reject the results," he told Reuters by telephone, adding that the shape of parliament would not be clear until the voting was over.

The Muslim Brotherhood has also urged its rivals to "accept the will of the people" after a first-round vote set its party on course to take the most seats in parliament, with a hardline Salafi Islamist party thrusting liberals into third place.

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Overall election results suggest Islamist parties, while not united, may wield a two-thirds majority in parliament.

In line with the Brotherhood's pragmatic image, the group's Freedom and Justice party may avoid lining up with its ultra-conservative Islamist rivals. But its popular mandate will strengthen its hand in any power struggle with the military over Egypt's political future.

Egyptians return to the polls on Monday for 52 run-off votes for individual candidates, who will occupy a third of the 498 elected seats in the lower house once two more rounds of the complicated voting process end in January. Two-thirds of the seats are allocated proportionately to party lists.

Figures released by the election committee and published by state media show a list led by the Brotherhood's FJP securing 36.6 percent of valid party-list votes, followed by the Salafi al-Nour Party with 24.4 percent, and the liberal Egyptian Bloc with 13.4 percent.

The liberal Wafd Party took 7.1 percent, the moderate Islamist Wasat Party 4.3 percent, while the Revolution Continues, a group formed by youth activists, picked up 3.5 percent. The rest went to smaller party lists.

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