The Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohammed Morsi has officially won Egypt’s presidential election and will be the country’s next president, the electoral commission has announced. Morsi picked up 13.2 million votes out of just over 26 million, giving him about 51 per cent of the vote. His competitor, Ahmed Shafiq, the final prime minister under Hosni Mubarak, received 12.3 million. More than 800,000 ballots were invalidated. Farouq Sultan, the head of the election commission, delivered a long speech before announcing the results in which he defended the body’s “independence and integrity” amidst what he called meddling by unnamed political factions. The two candidates filed 456 complaints about the electoral process, Sultan said, most of them allegations of either forgery or Christian voters being blocked from polling stations in Upper Egypt. The vast majority of those complaints were dismissed.
Egyptian protesters want elections scheduled for Monday to be postponed and a council of elders to replace the military rulers who on Wednesday again sent in security forces to quell demonstrating crowds. The current protests are seen as a second – and decisive – phase of the January revolution that led to the overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak. In the symbolic heart of the revolution, Tahrir Square, demonstrators were chanting the same slogans used 11 months ago, but this time directing them at the interim military ruler, Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi.
“If the wheels of democracy move on Egypt and this problem is still here, then democracy will have failed,” said Ikramy Esayed. “Next Monday is very important for Egypt, but not because [the poll] should be held, but because we should acknowledge that this is not the time.” A second man, Nashad Bishara, agreed. “It is unsuitable now to hold elections,” he said. “For those who love Egypt stability must be established first. The truth is the army doesn’t want elections.”
Egypt’s military-led government Tuesday denied using violence against protesters and said the resignation of the country’s Cabinet has been accepted, although members will remain until a new government is formed.
“We never fired one bullet against any Egyptian,” said Supreme Council of the Armed Forces Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi in a speech. “Our first goal from the start of the transitional phase was to restore security in the streets.” Tantawi spoke on the fourth straight day of protests and clashes in Cairo and beyond, in which 30 people have died, and about 1,950 have been injured, the Health Ministry said.
A group of six presidential hopefuls said on Wednesday they wanted Egypt’s first free election to be held in April, far earlier than the timetable envisaged by the ruling military council. Egypt’s generals have not set a date but, under a timetable that involves a parliamentary vote followed by drawing up a new constitution, analysts said the presidential race may not happen until the end of 2012 or early 2013.
Many Egyptians suspect that the military council, which took control after Hosni Mubarak was driven from office, may want to hold on to power from behind the scenes even after handing over day-to-day affairs to the government. The military denies any such intentions. Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi on Wednesday also dismissed talk that the military might propose a candidate for the presidency.
“Don’t let this drag on, so that we don’t lose all hope,” Hazim Salah Abou Ismail, one of the six hopefuls, told a news conference, where representatives of the group announced their demands.