The Muslim Brotherhood has said it had won at least 41% of the seats in Egypt's lower house of parliament, with Islamists of various stripes taking almost two thirds of the assembly so far.

Banned under deposed President Hosni Mubarak, the Brotherhood has emerged as a major winner from the uprising that toppled him, exploiting a well-organised support base in the first free legislative vote in decades.

It may be some weeks before the exact shape of the lower house is known because of various runoff votes.

However, it is unlikely that their outcome will alter the dominance of the Islamists.

They now look set to wield major influence over the shape of a new constitution, the text of which will be drafted by a 100-strong body that the new assembly will pick.

The Brotherhood has promised that Egyptians of all persuasions will have their say.

However while the strong Islamist performance has alarmed some Egyptians and Western governments, it is far from clear whether rival Islamists will cooperate in the new legislature.

The Brotherhood's Democratic Alliance list has won 41% of the seats so far, while another list led by the hardline Islamist Nour Party came second with 20% of the seats.

The Nour Party seeks strict application of Islamic law and the more moderate Brotherhood may seek an alliance with liberal groups to allay concerns about the prospect of an Islamist-led Egypt.

62% of potential voters cast their ballots in the third round of the election, which took place on Tuesday and Wednesday, Egypt's election commission said.

With the elections for the lower house drawing to a close, the debate is now likely to shift to the new constitution that will replace the Mubarak-era document.

One main area of discussion will be whether there should be a dilution of presidential powers which underpinned his rule.

Those powers are now exercised by the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, which has faced mounting criticism from activists who accuse it of seeking to hold on to power and privilege.

The military is set to rule until the end of June, by which time they say Egyptians will have elected a president to whom they will hand power.