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, with two of the most polarizing candidates finishing first. 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. 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. The so-called revolutionary votes were mostly divided among the 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. Influential Egyptian-born Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, widely respected throughout the Middle East, urged voters to support Morsi in the runoff.
Speaking on the Arabic satellite channel Al-Jazeera Sunday evening, he said the race is not between an Islamist and a non-Islamist, but between “the revolution and the enemies of the revolution.” Shafiq, who placed second after Morsi, filed an appeal to the election commission, saying votes cast for him in one province were not included in the ballot count.