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Mubarak poised to claim vote landslide

CAIRO -- With controversy swirling about alleged irregularities and fraud in Wednesday's presidential vote, government officials leaked partial results yesterday to show that President Hosni Mubarak had won at least 70 percent of the vote.

Senior officials put voter turnout at around 30 percent.

Ayman Nour, who ran an energetic campaign as head of the fledgling Tomorrow Party, filed complaints with the Presidential Election Commission contending fraud.

''There were violations regarding the right of the voter to cast his ballot," Nour said. Independent human rights groups said they were considering filing court cases.

Government officials worked hard to persuade the public that the vote was valid. Boutros Boutros-Ghali, the former UN secretary general who heads the government's National Council on Human Rights, declared the election a ''positive experience." Information Ministry officials urged reporters to accentuate the positive in the election and not focus on alleged violations.

In Washington, the State Department praised the vote.

''These elections really mark a historic departure for Egypt, in the fact that you have multi-candidate elections," said spokesman Sean McCormack. ''I think it's safe to say that Egyptians have not seen presidential elections like the one you have just seen in their lifetimes."

But the Mubarak government's efforts to get similar approval from Egyptians was hampered by the continuing disputes. Unlike in past parliamentary votes and presidential referendums, results were not announced at local polling stations. Instead, counts have been funneled to a central tabulation office that has until tomorrow to release official numbers.

''They have all the time they need to sculpt the result they want," said Enji Haddad, a member of We Are Watching, an independent group that tried to monitor voting irregularities.

Even as complaints were voiced over the vote, the first in which Egyptians were able to mark ballots with more than one presidential candidate's name on them, attention was quickly turning toward the next stage in the herky-jerky battle over changing Egyptian politics -- parliamentary elections scheduled for November.

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