Africa

Muslim Brotherhood claims victory in Egypt polls

AFP

Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood has claimed a historic victory for Mohammed Mursi in the country's first presidential election since a 2011 uprising.

An Egyptian woman casts her vote at a polling station during the second day of the presidential runoff election in Alexandria, Egypt. (AP)

“Doctor Mohammed Mursi is the first Egyptian president of the republic elected by the people,” the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party said in the tweet that first announced their projected win.

Mursi’s campaign director Ahmed Abdelati confirmed the projected victory.

At a press conference he said Mursi had garnered 52.5% of the vote to 47.5% for his rival, ex-prime minister Ahmed Shafiq, with the ballots from nearly all of the country’s 13 000 polling stations counted.

“Its a moment that all the Egyptian people have waited for,” he said.

There were scenes of jubilation at Mursi’s headquarters, where the candidate himself thanked Egyptians for their votes in brief remarks.

Apparent victory
He pledged to work to “hand-in-hand with all Egyptians for a better future, freedom, democracy, development and peace.”

“We are not seeking vengeance or to settle accounts,” he said, adding that he would build a “modern, democratic state” for all Egypt’s citizens, Muslims and Christians.

Supporters screamed with excitement, some wiping tears from their eyes at the apparent victory that marks the culmination of a long political road for the once-banned Muslim Brotherhood.

At Shafiq’s headquarters, officials appeared to be in shock and said they were “waiting for the official figures”.

The Brotherhood mobilised its formidable network of supporters to observe the vote counting across the country and deliver early unofficial results but final official figures are not expected until June 21.

The jubilation at Mursi’s headquarters was overshadowed by a looming showdown between the Brotherhood and the ruling military, which issued a new constitutional document shortly after polls closed on Sunday.

Veto power
The document issued by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (Scaf) grants the body legislative powers after a top court on Thursday ordered the dissolution of the Islamist-dominated Parliament.

The document also gives Scaf veto power over the text of a new permanent Constitution, and states that no new parliamentary vote will be held until after a permanent constitution is approved.

The declaration appeared to put the military on a collision course with the Brotherhood, which called the constitutional declaration “null and unconstitutional”.

The document was issued after a Thursday ruling from the constitutional court, which found a third of the Parliament’s members had been elected illegally, effectively ordering the dissolution of the body.

The military informed Parliament after the ruling that it considered it dissolved and Sunday’s declaration confirmed it was retaking the legislative power it handed the body in January, after a drawn-out election process.

“[Scaf] shall exercise the powers referred to under the first clause of article 56 [on legislative power]... until the election of a new People’s Assembly,” the document reads.

Battle of wills
Such an election cannot be held until a new permanent Constitution is written and adopted by a referendum, it adds.

The writing of the new Constitution will be carried out by a “constitutional commission representing all segments of the society” that will have three months to complete its work, the document says.

It also grants Scaf a veto right over any article of a draft Constitution it considers “contrary to the supreme interests of the country”.

Egypt’s Parliament has already appointed a constituent panel to replace an initial group that was dissolved over allegations it was Islamist-dominated.

But the declaration leaves it unclear whether that panel will be able to continue its work, and gives Scaf the right to form a new panel if the current body “is prevented from doing its work”.

Electoral race
It also stipulates that Scaf “as currently constituted, has the power to decide on all matters related to the armed forces, the nomination of its commanders and the extension of their service.”

The Muslim Brotherhood and revolutionary youth movements denounced the declaration as a “coup” and the Freedom and Justice Party said it rejected any bid by the military to retake legislative power.

And parliamentary speaker Saad al-Katatni, an FJP member, said the constituent assembly appointed by the Parliament would continue its work.

The new political uncertainty comes after an electoral race that polarised the nation, dividing those who fear a return to the old regime under Shafiq from others who want to keep religion out of politics.

The new president will inherit a struggling economy, deteriorating security and the challenge of uniting a nation divided by the 18-day uprising that toppled Mubarak in February 2011. – AFP

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