On 16-17 June the second round of the first free presidential elections was held in Egypt. The Muslim Brotherhood has declared on 18 June their candidate, Mohammed Morsi, the winner of the runoff, and unofficial vote tallies show him leading the race by more than one million votes. The group held a press conference early on Monday morning to announce Morsi's victory. With with 98% of polling stations reporting, Morsi had 12.7 million votes (53%), while his opponent, Ahmed Shafiq, had 11.84 million, the group said. The Shafiq camp did however also declare victory, stating that Shafiq had won with 52%, but the Brotherhood’s numbers match best with unofficial tallies of local and international media.
“Mohammed Mursi is the first Egyptian president of the republic elected by the people,” the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) said in the Tweet that first announced their projected win. Morsi addressed the families of the martyrs killed during the revolution, and promised to restore their rights in a "state of laws". He also reached out to Egypt's Coptic Christians, promising that everyone would be part of "his family". He also said he was not looking for "revenge", and promised to work for all Egyptians. Just hours after the Muslim Brotherhood declared its candidate will be Egypt's next president Morsi supporters started gathering in Cairo's Tahrir Square.
The other presidential candidate Ahmed Shafiq was quick to contest the claim by the Brotherhood. “The campaign of Ahmed Shafiq is astonished by the conference of the FJP that represents a violation of the laws of the election commission,” Baraka, the media official of Shafiq’s campaign, said, accusing the Brotherhood of “hijacking the election result.” He added: “The initial indications of the Ahmed Shafiq campaign prove beyond all doubt that he is ahead in the elections despite all the violations." In response to the allegations Yasser Ali, an official of the Mursi campaign stated: “We are reaching out to Shafiq’s campaign to end the elections race and competition and to part amicably as friends”. Official results will be announced on 21 June.
The presidential elections had been overshadowed by a controversial ruling of Egypt’s Supreme Court, who decided just before the start of the election that one third of the seats in the Islamist-dominated parliament was invalid, leading to the entire parliament being dissolved. This decree led to a wide discussion on whether the newly elected president and parliament would get any real power or whether the actual power would stay with the military junta that has ruled Egypt since the fall of Mubarak. In a new ruling announced just before the outcome of the presidential race the junta decided on a constitutional declaration outlining the president’s powers that made clear real power remains with the army. The declaration also gives the Supreme Court of the Armed Forces, who are generally seen as part of the ruling military junta, veto power over the text of a new permanent constitution, and states that no new parliamentary vote will be held until after a permanent constitution is approved.
The declaration appeared to put the military on a collision course with the Brotherhood, which called the constitutional declaration “null and unconstitutional.” In response to these rulings the Mursi camp stated “We will sit with the military council to discuss the constitutional decree amendments which we refuse fully and will go to Tahrir Square on 19 June to protest against these amendments”. The new political uncertainty comes after an electoral race that polarized the nation, dividing those who fear a return to the old regime under Shafiq from others who want to keep religion out of politics.
Sources: Alarabiya, Aljazeera, Reuters
Picture: Flickr: Ahmed el-Fatah