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Mursi elected Egypt’s new president

Mon 25 Jun 2012 Mursi elected Egypt’s new president

The Muslim Brotherhood’s first candidate Mohammed Mursi has been elected Egypt's first democratically chosen president. The results were announced on 24 June by the head of the electoral commission, after a 50 minute long speech on the process, leaving thousands on Tahrir square in anticipation and excitement. Mursi won the 16-17 June elections with a 51.7% margin against 48.3% for rival Shafiq, with a voter turnout of 51.6%, almost matching the voter turnout of the first round of the Presidential elections.

Mursi could be sworn in on 30 June, although questions remain over the extent of his authority. The ruling military council has taken control of many of the president's powers and has dissolved parliament. However, Mursi retains the right to appoint the prime minister and cabinet. He has already begun talks to form a presidential team and cabinet that "would truly represent Egypt after the revolution," according to a statement on the Brotherhoods' Twitter account. In his victory speech on 24 June, 60-year old Mursi, urged Egyptians "to strengthen our national unity" and promised an inclusive presidency. "There is no room now for the language of confrontation," he said. Mursi is set to build a civilian administration to overcome deep political division, and to coax a mistrustful army into relaxing its grip on power.

Mursi claimed victory just hours after last week's runoff election, based on unofficial numbers tallied by the Brotherhood, but the commission delayed its official announcement until the 24th of June. On hearing the news of his victory, tens of thousands of Muslim Brotherhood supporters cheered in Cairo's Tahrir Square, chanting, "Down with military rule!".

In the intervening days, Khairat al-Shater, the Brotherhood's political boss, met generals from Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) at least once. Sources say they were negotiating exactly what powers the president will have. Shortly before the polls closed last week, the generals issued a decree sharply limiting the powers of the new president. It permitted him to declare war, for example, only with the approval of the military council. SCAF will also keep control of legislative power, and the budget, until a new parliament is elected. Egyptians went to the polls in November to elect a legislature, which was dominated by the Freedom and Justice Party, but it was dissolved earlier this month after a high court ruling found parts of the electoral law unconstitutional.

Reactions from abroad The governments of Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, and the Palestinian Authority congratulated Mohammed Mursi. Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, said in a statement that he "respects the outcome" of the election, and "expects to continue co-operation with the Egyptian administration". Mursi made an oblique reference to Israel in his victory speech, when he promised to "keep all international treaties," a vow which would include the 1979 Camp David Accords between Israel and Egypt. The White House also congratulated Mursi, and urged him to "advance national unity by reaching out to all parties and constituencies". Mursi has also pledged to strengthen ties with Iran to build a "strategic balance in the region," according to an interview excerpt given by Iran's Fars news agency on 25 June. 

Sources: BBC, Aljazeera, Flickr: Aslanmedia

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