CAIRO - President Hosni Mubarak swept Egypt's first contested race for his job, according to preliminary results Thursday, an expected victory in an election praised as progress toward democratic reform despite allegations of fraud.
The election commission - criticized as controlled by Mubarak's government - insisted Wednesday's ballot was a success, though there were widespread reports of irregularities. The commission also dismissed calls by the runnerup for a repeat of the vote.
In office for 24 years, Mubarak had been expected to win Wednesday's election by a wide margin. But his government has insisted the important thing was the process, saying the election heralds more reforms in this key U.S. ally, which has seen only autocratic rule for 50 years.
Final results were expected today or Saturday.
The state newspaper El-Gomhoriya reported today that Mubarak had won with 80 percent and that his top opponent, Ayman Nour of the opposition Al-Ghad party, came in second, though it did not give his percentage.
Nour wrote to the elections commission with a list of alleged voting irregularities and demanded a repeat of the vote, citing the "grave violations that ... influenced the integrity of the election process," his deputy, Nagui el-Ghatrifi, told reporters.
Commission spokesman Osama Attawiya said the commission "examined the request," met with Nour and rejected his appeal.
Attawiya said the commission concluded that the alleged violations presented by Nour "are not correct." Many reform-minded judges have accused the commission of being under the ruling party's domination.
N. Korea will resume disarmament talks
WASHINGTON - Six-nation talks over North Korea's nuclear-weapons program will resume next Tuesday, China said Thursday, but even as the announcement came from Beijing, a new player who seems likely to complicate the talks took the stage.
Jay Lefkowitz, a former White House aide, was appointed as the administration's special envoy on human rights in North Korea last month, but he made his first public appearance on Thursday. He said he planned to publicize whatever he learned about human rights abuses in North Korea, such as allegations that the regime holds political prisoners in concentration camps where they are "starved to death," as he put it.
North Korea typically reacts quickly and angrily to critical statements from Washington. In fact, the announcement that Lefkowitz was being appointed to the new position was one factor in North Korea's decision to postpone resumption of the disarmament talks by two weeks, Pyongyang said.
The disarmament talks recessed Aug. 7 because the parties could not agree on a statement of principles.
The six nations involved are the United States, North Korea, China, Russia, Japan and South Korea.