CAIRO - Egypt's military rulers said Wednesday that the next parliament would not be representative enough to independently oversee the drafting of a constitution, and that they would appoint a council to check the influence of religious extremists on the process.
The announcement followed a surprisingly strong showing by Islamist groups who took the overwhelming majority in the first round of parliamentary elections. The outcome caused concern among the liberals who drove Egypt's uprising and the military, which took power from ousted leader Hosni Mubarak.
"We are in the early stages of democracy," said Gen. Mukhtar Mulla, a member of the ruling military council. "The parliament is not representing all sectors of society."
In theory, the new parliament will be entrusted with forming a 100-member constituent assembly to write the new constitution. But Mulla said the new council would coordinate with parliament and the cabinet to ensure that the assembly is representative of all religions, professions, and political parties.
The new constitution will determine the nature of Egypt's post-Mubarak political system. Liberal groups and the military - a secular institution that has traditionally controlled access of Islamists to its ranks - are concerned that religious extremists will exert too much influence and could try to enshrine strict Islamic law, or sharia, as the only guiding principle for state policies.
Voters chose both parties and individuals in the complex electoral system. The Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamic fundamentalist group that was the best-known and best-organized party, and the more radical Al-Nour party - ultraconservative Islamists known as Salafis - took about 60 percent of the vote for parties together, according to official results.
Late Wednesday, the electoral commission released results for 48 individual seats decided in the first round. The Brotherhood won 30, Al-Nour won six, and the third-place liberal Egyptian Bloc took six. The rest went to smaller parties.
The vote, which is being held in three stages, was the fairest in Egypt's modern history. The final two rounds are not expected to alter the Islamists' dominance.
The result was a devastating blow for the mostly secular and liberal youth who drove the uprising. And though they have been highly critical of the military's rule and recently staged a new wave of protests demanding the generals hand power to a civilian authority, the ground has shifted with elections.