Egypt awaits presidential election results

Posted by on Jun 24, 2012 | Comments Off on Egypt awaits presidential election results

 

Egyptians are awaiting the delayed results of the presidential run-off election held last weekend.

The results are due in the coming hours, after the election commission heard appeals by the two candidates.

Security is intense, with tanks deployed around the commission’s headquarters in the capital, Cairo.

Mohammed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood and former Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq have both claimed victory and vowed to form unity governments.

Thousands of their supporters spent the night in the centre of Cairo amid increasing political polarisation.

Correspondents say the atmosphere has been peaceful, but tense.

Many people are still apprehensive about the intentions of the ruling generals, who gave themselves sweeping new powers last week after the Supreme Constitutional Court ruled that the Islamist-dominated parliament should be dissolved.

Shops are closing early and people are hurrying to their homes to watch the decisive news conference from the commission, which is expected to announce the result at 15:00 local time (13:00 GMT) on Sunday.

Government employees were also advised to leave early, in another signal of the security precautions being taken,

Military power

On Friday, the Supreme Council of Armed Forces (Scaf) called on supporters of both candidates to accept the result when it came.

Results from last weekend’s run-off were originally due out on Thursday.

Muslim Brotherhood supporters are maintaining a vigil in the capital’s Tahrir Square, where on Friday tens of thousands of protesters gathered to denounce a series of decrees and appointments by the Scaf designed to reduce or constrain the power of the president, and entrench the power of the military.

Demonstrators held a noon prayer meeting in the square, which was the birthplace of the uprising that ousted Hosni Mubarak some 17 months ago.

On 13 June, the military-controlled government gave soldiers the right to arrest civilians for trial in military courts until the ratification of a new constitution.

Four days later, just as the polls were closing in the presidential run-off, the generals issued an interim constitutional declaration that granted them all legislative powers and reinforced their role in the drafting of a permanent constitution. The document also exempted the military from civilian oversight.

Then on Monday, the head of the Scaf, Field Marshal Mohammed Hussein Tantawi, announced the re-establishment of a National Defence Council, putting the generals in charge of Egypt’s national security policy.

Islamist, liberals and secularists said the moves amounted to a coup.


“The military must leave its political role and go back to its basic role which is protecting the country, not continuing to ruin the country and people’s affairs – this will not be accepted by the Egyptian people,” Abdel Nasser Hijab, a demonstrator in Tahrir Square, told the Associated Press.

there are fears that in the current atmosphere, the announcement of the presidential election results might only make matters worse.

Boycott

A pro-Ahmed Shafiq demonstration took place on Saturday in the Nasser City neighbourhood of Cairo.

“When we decided to take to the streets, we’re not just one, two or three million, we’re 80 million. The only difference is that we’re waiting for the military council to give its final word,” one Shafiq supporter, Doaa, told the Reuters news agency.

Hundreds of supporters held up pictures of Mr Shafiq and Field Marshal Tantawi while chanting slogans in support of the army and against the Brotherhood.

Correspondents say that there was less enthusiasm in the run-off election than there was for previous rounds of voting, and some called for a boycott or spoiled ballots.

On Tuesday, the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party announced that Mr Mursi, its chairman, had won with 51.74% of the vote, citing official figures from the HPEC.

Mr Mursi has also secured the support of several leading liberal figures and youth activists in Egypt, including Wael Ghonim, who played a key role in the uprising that forced Hosni Mubarak to step down in February 2011.

Mr Shafiq came second to Mr Mursi in last month’s first round, in which turnout among the 52 million eligible voters was only 46%.

But the former air force commander, who served briefly as former President Mubarak’s last prime minister, said on Thursday at his first public appearance since the run-off that he was confident of victory.

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