CAIRO, NOV. 29 -- Egypt's main opposition parties boycotted a legislative election today that apparently failed to raise great voter interest. Security sources said 29 people were hurt in election-related violence.
The three main opposition parties said election procedures allowed for the government to rig the poll in favor of the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) of President Hosni Mubarak. The boycott assured a victory for the NDP.
In and around Cairo, supervisors at polling stations visited late in the day said turnout was low -- an estimated 8 to 25 percent. Interior Minister Abdel-Halim Moussa told the official news agency that the turnout was 70 percent in some rural areas. Voting appeared heaviest in rural areas and those where government supporters bused voters to polls.
The security sources said 22 people, including two policemen, were hurt near the Mediterranean port of Damietta in a gun battle between police and villagers who had tried to seize ballots and mark them for Dia-Eddin Daoud, a supporter of the late president Gamal Abdel Nasser who ran as an independent.
Despite state-run media coverage of election preparations, the vote failed to tantalize many people. Neither Egypt's commitment of troops to the U.S.-led force confronting Iraq nor worries over law-and-order and high inflation have had much impact.
As he voted, Mubarak criticized the opposition boycott, saying it harmed moves toward democracy. In response to reporters' queries about concerns over rigging, he said unprecedented steps had been taken to assure a fair vote.
The election results are expected Friday or Saturday.
Personalities rather than issues traditionally have dominated Egyptian elections and no candidate has emerged to challenge Mubarak.