CAIRO — A record 62 percent of voters cast ballots in the first phase of Egypt's parliamentary elections this week, the country's High Judicial Election Commission announced Friday, a turnout that analysts say reflects broad approval of the ruling military council's plan for a transition to a civilian government despite protests against its authority.
The head of the commission, Abdel Moez Ibrahim, announced clear winners of four seats and said there would be run-off polls after more ambiguous results in most other areas. The initial numbers nevertheless indicated that, as predicted, Islamist parties have done well.
Results of parallel voting for party lists, as opposed to individuals, will not be published until lower house elections are completed in January. Ibrahim cited some problems with this week's polling, including campaigning outside voting stations and isolated cases of violence, concerns echoed in a statement by the Carter Center, which has been observing the elections.
Meanwhile, protesters in Cairo's Tahrir Square marched with banners, paraded coffins and released black balloons in memory of more than 40 demonstrators killed in clashes last week after Egypt's interim military rulers cracked down on rallies calling for its departure.
But the resignation of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, or SCAF, seemed a distant dream after a week of successful elections that concluded Friday with the partial unveiling of a Cabinet by Prime Minister Kamal el-Ganzouri, appointed after his predecessor resigned in protest at continued military rule. Of 32 Cabinet positions, 13 appointments were announced, all but one of them people retaining their old posts.
In Tahrir Square, there was none of the uproar of last week, when hundreds of thousands of people gathered amid clouds of tear gas and volleys of bullets, both rubber-coated and live, according to Health Ministry reports.
In the encampment in the center, a few dozen protesters, many with broken limbs and eye injuries sustained in the violence last week, said they had boycotted the elections and would stay until the end of the military rule, which they see as an extension of the government of Hosni Mubarak, who was ousted in February after an 18-day uprising.