Cairo - The powerful Muslim Brotherhood said Friday that its candidate, Mohammed Morsi, was leading in the early stages of the count in Egypt's first free presidential election.

The Brotherhood said Morsi had gained about a third of the votes tallied nationwide so far. Morsi is followed by Ahmed Shafiq, Hosny Mubarak's last premier, with around 22 per cent, according to the Brotherhood.

If those results were to be confirmed, Morsi and Shafiq would face each other in a run-off on June 16-17.

Hamdeen Sabahy, a socialist contender, is in third place with 20 per cent of the vote, followed by Abdul- Moneim Abul-Fotouh, a moderate Islamist, with 17 per cent, according to initial results posted on the Brotherhood website.

The official results are to be announced on Tuesday, according to the election commission. - Sapa-dpa