Cairo: The Muslim Brotherhood declared early Monday that its candidate, Mohammad Mursi, won Egypt’s presidential election, which would be the first victory of an Islamist as head of state in the stunning wave of protests demanding democracy that swept the Middle East the past year. But the military handed itself the lion’s share of power over the new president, sharpening the possibility of confrontation.
By the group’s count, Mursi took 13.2 million votes, or 51.8 per cent, to Shafiq’s 48.1 per cent, of 25.5 million votes with more than 99 per cent of the more than 13,000 poll centres counted.
With parliament dissolved and martial law effectively in force, the generals issued an interim constitution granting themselves sweeping authorities that ensure their hold on the state and subordinate the president. They will be Egypt’s lawmakers, they will control the budget and they will determine who writes the permanent constitution that will define the country’s future.
But as it claimed a narrow victory over Hosni Mubarak’s last prime minister Ahmad Shafiq in a deeply polarizing election, the Brotherhood challenged the military’s power grab. The group said Sunday it did not recognize the dissolution of parliament, where it was the largest party. It also rejected the military’s right to issue an interim constitution and oversee the drafting of a new one.
Official final results are not due until Thursday, and Shafiq’s campaign challenged the Brotherhood claim, which was based on the group’s compilation of election officials’ returns from nearly all polling centres nationwide.
But at their campaign headquarters, the Brotherhood officials and supporters were ebullient over the turn of fate. The fundamentalist group that was banned for most of its 80-year history and repeatedly subjected to crackdowns under Mubarak’s rule now held the chair from which its nemesis was ousted by last year’s 18 days of mass protests. The uprising was launched by secular, leftist young activists, joined only later by the Brotherhood’s leadership as millions took to the street, seeking an end to an authoritarian regime considered hopelessly corrupt.