The Brothers take charge
After days of dramatic speculation, Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohamed Mursi was named Egypt's new president, reports Reem Leila
Egypt's Presidential Elections Commission (PEC) declared the victory of the Muslim Brotherhood's (MB) presidential candidate Mohamed Mursi in the hotly contested presidential run-off elections this week, with Mursi becoming the country's first freely elected president and the fifth person to hold the office since the 1952 Revolution.
His victory, announced after significant delays on 24 June, ends a 60-year-long period of military rule and marks the beginning of a new era of civilians holding the state's highest office. Mursi's predecessors as president of the republic are Mohamed Naguib, Gamal Abdel-Nasser, Anwar El-Sadat and Hosni Mubarak, all of whom were officers in the Armed Forces.
Mursi gained 13.3 million votes, or 51.73 per cent of the vote, while his competitor, former prime minister under the ousted Mubarak regime Ahmed Shafik, received 12.3 million votes or 48.27 per cent of the vote.
As a result, Mursi won by a slim margin, and more than 840,000 ballot papers were invalidated and were not included in the final results. According to Farouk Sultan, head of the PEC, more than 26 million voters, out of the 50 million who were eligible, took part in the voting, or 51 per cent of the electorate.
The results were announced amid a tense atmosphere, this having reigned across the country since the elections were held the previous weekend, with both candidates declaring their victory and speculation growing that despite a projected win for Mursi, Shafik could be named the country's in-coming president.
In an act that fuelled the tension, the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) deployed troops across the country and outside all major towns and cities in the run-up to the announcement.
On the day the results were announced, the banks closed their doors three hours earlier than usual, and employees of public and private-sector firms were released from work at 1pm.
Adding to the tension was the SCAF's latest constitutional declaration, which dramatically curbed the power of the country's president, a move that followed the Supreme Constitutional Court's (SCC) ruling dismantling the Muslim-Brotherhood-dominated People's Assembly, which was elected late last year.
On the eve of the announcement of the result, Shafik's supporters rallied in Nasr City outside Cairo, setting off fireworks and hitting defaced posters of Mursi with their shoes while chanting slogans against the Muslim Brotherhood.
In contrast, Mursi's supporters, gathered in Tahrir Square, soon were able to celebrate his victory, while at the same time demanding that the SCAF hand presidential powers over to the elected president as scheduled and annul the decrees dissolving the parliament and granting judicial powers to the military and civil police and intelligence agents. They also demanded that the SCAF's new constitutional declaration be annulled.
During his campaign, Mursi promised to support the revolution that toppled former president Hosni Mubarak until all its demands were fulfilled. His victory was the beginning of a new era, he said, in which "all the corrupt figures of the old regime will be eliminated and punished," though he later said that no acts of vengeance would be carried out.
There were fears that further violence could follow had Shafik been elected. "A real disaster was avoided. If Shafik had won, it would have been the end of the country as well as of the revolution and the beginning of an era of chaos and endless protests and demonstrations," commented political analyst Hassan Nafaa.
Nafaa said that the newly elected president now faced the challenge of meeting people's skyrocketing expectations. "People have become exhausted because of the state of chaos that has been in place over the past 18 months, and they have high hopes that Mursi will be able to rescue the country's deteriorating economy and bring about social and political reform," Nafaa said.
Egypt's economy has fallen apart since the Revolution, he said, adding that "little is expected to change in the realm of foreign policy, and there may not be the kind of sweeping social changes that many fear may come about under an Islamist administration."
Professor of political science Gamal Zahran said there could soon be a clash between Mursi and the SCAF. "A new constitution is expected to be issued and passed by the parliament, which has been dissolved. How will this happen, and who will Mursi swear the oath of office in front of," Zahran asked.
"Is he going to swear in front of the SCAF, or the people in Tahrir Square, or the Shura Council or the dissolved People's Assembly, especially now that there have been calls to reverse the SCAF's decree dissolving the Assembly," asked Zahran.
Under the new constitutional declaration, the SCAF has retained veto power over the new constitution, and it has reserved certain legislative powers. "Will the new president and the Muslim Brotherhood accept this," asked Zahran.
Immediately after Mursi's victory was announced, he was greeted by Shafik, the head of the SCAF Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, the Grand Sheikh of Al-Azhar Ahmed El-Tayeb, and former foreign minister Amr Moussa, who only received a little over two million votes in the first round of the presidential elections.