Cairo - Egyptians voted in parliamentary elections on Sunday that were marred by claims of fraud, arrests and violence that led to the death of an independent candidate's son.
Amr Sayyed, 24, was stabbed to death during a scuffle at a polling site in the al-Matariya district of north-eastern Cairo, the Interior Ministry said.
In the southern city of Nagaa Hamadi, four polling centres were closed after violence erupted between supporters of the rival candidates.
In the nearby city of Qena, unidentified people hurled Molotov cocktails at a polling station for women, causing a fire to break out at the premises' front gates.
Some 42 million people were eligible to vote for the 5,100 candidates vying for the 508 seats up for grabs in the People's Assembly.
President Hosny Mubarak's ruling National Democratic Party (NDP), which is expected to keep its majority, played down the violence.
An NDP spokesman blamed the trouble on "an outlawed group of people trying to stifle the positive indications of the elections by spreading rumours about the whole process."
An election watchdog said ballot papers were stolen from several places, while more than 40 people were arrested for destroying ballot boxes at three sites in the al-Beheira Governorate.
The Muslim Brotherhood, which is officially banned but fields candidates as independents, said many of their supporters were refused entry at polling stations to cast their votes.
One candidate, Mahmoud Amer from the October 6th Governorate, withdrew from the elections in light of what he described as vote rigging.
Security officials said 80 supporters of the banned group were arrested in different provinces, including the northern town of Port Said.
According to Muslim Brotherhood candidate, Hoda Ghaniya, "with this kind of fraud, it is going to be very hard to win."
NDP candidate Hany Tawfiq also acknowledged that there had been incidents of election fraud in parts of his district and urged the government to do more to curb it.
In the poor neighborhood of Shubra al-Khaima, hundreds of men and children crowded onto a side street to support and cheer for Mohamed al-Beltagy, an independent member of parliament with the Muslim Brotherhood who is seeking re-election.
"This is not an election, but a theatrical play. As you see here with these supporters, the streets are tired of fraud and 30 years of rule by the National Democratic Party," he told reporters while he paid a visit to one of the polling stations.
Despite local support for the group, observers say the Brotherhood may lose seats.
Pope Shenouda III, the patriarch of Egypt's Coptic Orthodox Church, voted for the opposition Wafd Party's candidate, businessman Ramy Lakkah, the independent daily al-Masry al-Youm reported.
In the last election, held in 2005, voter turnout was a reported 22 per cent. Sunday's participation may be even lower, with only a sparse number of voters seen trickling into polling stations throughout the day.
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