Three top candidates in Egypt’s presidential race filed appeals to the election commission ahead of the deadline Sunday, alleging violations in the first round vote that they say could change the outcome. The appeals alleging fraud are likely to enflame an already explosive race. Preliminary results from last week’s election placed Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohammed Morsi and Hosni Mubarak’s last prime minister, Ahmed Shafiq, as the two candidates entering a June 16-17 runoff. Thirteen candidates were on the ballot. Shafiq, who placed second after Morsi, said votes cast for him in one province were not included in the ballot count. Many voters reject both front-runners as polarizing extremists. Young, liberal secularists who led the popular rebellion that overthrew longtime leader Hosni Mubarak last year failed to place a candidate in the runoff.
A large portion of the vote – more than 40 percent – went to candidates who were seen as more in the spirit of the uprising – neither for the Brotherhood nor for the so-called “feloul,” or “remnants” of the old autocratic regime – but those votes were mostly divided among the two candidates who placed third and fourth. The top finisher, the Brotherhood’s Morsi, received only about 25 percent of the vote, according to preliminary results.
Hamdeen Sabahi, a socialist and a champion of the poor who made a surprisingly strong showing, called for a partial vote recount after he placed third by a margin of 700,000 votes after Shafiq. Sabahi’s campaign said in a statement Sunday that its representatives met with the elections commission to request that official results not be announced until the eligibility of voters in five provinces is reviewed. Official first-round results are expected Monday or Tuesday.