Egypt looks set for a run-off presidential vote between the Muslim Brotherhood's Mohammed Morsi and Mubarak-era minister Ahmed Shafiq, pitting Islamists who helped oust the dictator against his last premier.
The official MENA news agency reported partial results showing Morsi leading with 1.82 million votes, followed by Shafiq with 1.78 million votes and a surprise showing by pan-Arab leftist Hamdeen Sabahi with 1.64 million.
A run-off between Shafiq and Morsi will further polarise a nation that rose up against president Hosni Mubarak's authoritarianism 15 months ago but has since suffered a spike in violence and a declining economy.
The Muslim Brotherhood also announced that, with 90% of votes tallied from the Wednesday-Thursday election but with no single candidate clearing the required 50% mark, its candidate was leading.
"There will be a run-off between Mohammed Morsi and Ahmed Shafiq," the Islamist group said on its website.
Representatives of the 12 candidates contesting the election witnessed the overnight vote count across the country and were present when the individual results were announced at each polling station.
Judges overseeing the count then handed the official results of each station to the candidates' representatives. The Islamist group compiled the results from around the country and then announced them.
A spokesman from Shafiq's campaign, Karim Salem, said they were "confident that General Shafiq would be in the second round" but they were still waiting for official results.
"It's the candidate who was the clearest and the most honest," Salem told AFP, denying fears that Shafiq would represent a retreat from the goals of the uprising.
The top two vote-getters will face each other in a run-off on June 16-17.