Egypt's ruling party said on Saturday that an opposition boycott of a second round of polling in a parliamentary election was nothing but a case of sour grapes on the part of losing candidates.
The National Democratic Party, which swept the first round on November 28, is tipped to win all but a handful of seats in the run-off on Sunday after the two largest opposition groups announced their boycott.
"The NDP will treat the second round with the same resolve as the first round," said Sami Abdul Aziz, a media committee member of President Hosni Mubarak's party.
The party, which has dominated parliament for three decades, won 209 of 221 seats in the first round. Four legal opposition groups won five seats and the rest went to independents, some affiliated with the NDP.
Opposition groups say the vote was marred by fraud and violence, a charge echoed by local and international rights groups.
The Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's top opposition movement, said it would boycott the second round — held in constituencies where no candidate won more than 50 percent of votes — after it failed to win a single seat.
The Islamists, who register their candidates as independents to circumvent a ban on religious parties, controlled a fifth of the outgoing parliament after the last election in 2005.
The liberal Wafd party, which has won two seats, also said it would boycott the vote on Sunday, in a rare show of resolve against the government.
The NDP, which analysts say would have preferred a manageable opposition minority in parliament, called on Wafd to reconsider.
"Wafd's withdrawal was started by those who thought they would win seats and ended up losing," Abdul Aziz told AFP. "There was pressure from the losers."
Agriculture Minister Amin Abaza said Egypt's parliament would still have an opposition despite the boycott. "In the last parliament, there was opposition from within the NDP," he told the official MENA news agency.