Egypt counts votes, Brotherhood says ahead (REUTERS) By Edmund Blair and Tamim Elyan CAIRO, EGYPT 05/24/12 0:31pm EDT)
Reuters News Service
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(Reuters) - The Muslim Brotherhood said on Friday its candidate was
leading the early count in Egypt´s first free presidential election
that exposed a rift in the nation between supporters of Islamists and
backers of men who served deposed autocrat Hosni Mubarak.
The Brotherhood said Mohamed Mursi was ahead based on a small sample
of results shortly after voting ended in an election that marks the
final step in a messy and often bloody transition to democracy,
overseen by a military council.
The overall result will not be clear for some time. But the well-
organized Brotherhood had been expected to do well.
Egyptian television showed live footage of a methodical counting
process from polling stations around the nation of 82 million, with
judges watching. Such scenes were unthinkable under Mubarak, when
votes were chaotic and rigged.
None of the 12 candidates in the race is expected to secure the more
than 50 percent of votes cast to win outright. So Egypt´s 50 million
eligible voters are likely to go back to the polls for a run-off
between the top two on June 16 and 17.
Election officials said turnout in the first round was about 50
Among Mursi´s main rivals are the more secular-minded former Arab
League chief and foreign minister Amr Moussa and Ahmed Shafiq,
Mubarak´s last prime minister and who, like his ex-boss, was a former
air force commander.
"We are confident that the next president of Egypt is Mohamed Mursi,"
said Essam el-Erian, a senior member of the Brotherhood´s Freedom and
Justice Party which secured the biggest bloc in parliament after a
vote that ended in January.
If Mursi makes it to the second round and goes on to win a run-off,
it will put Islamists in a commanding position in the Arab world´s
most populous nation, helping redraw the regional map after decades
of repression by Mubarak and his predecessors.
Islamists have already swept to power in Morocco, Tunisia and Libya,
and have had a influential role in a revolt in Syria.
But Egypt´s next president still does not have a permanent job
description because of a tussle over who writes the new constitution,
and he could find his powers tempered by the generals, who are
determined to retain their privileges and influence.
Voting was held in a calm atmosphere over two days, with polls
closing late on Thursday. Monitors did not report any major
infringements that would invalidate the vote, although some
candidates grumbled about their rivals´ conduct.
Yet Egyptians seem increasingly polarized between those determined to
block the return of men branded "feloul," or remnants of Mubarak´s
era, and those worrying that Islamists will monopolize power. Others
worry about both options.
"The revolution was stolen from us by the ´feloul´, the Brotherhood
and the army. If Ahmed Shafiq or Amr Moussa win, the people will go
out in another revolution," said Mohamed Kamal, a 32-year-old
decorator, who cast his vote late on Thursday.
Kamal picked leftist candidate Hamdeen Sabahy, a dark horse in the
race. Also contesting the vote is another Islamist, Abdel Moneim Abol
Fotouh, who has sought to draw support from liberals and hardline
Some fear a backlash on the street if Shafiq wins. He was driven out
of the prime minister´s post by protests shortly after Mubarak was
toppled. Demonstrators hurled stones and shoes at him when he voted
in Cairo on Wednesday.
A page on Facebook, a medium used to devastating effect against
Mubarak, was launched on Thursday that threatened a "revolution if
Moussa or Shafiq wins".
But to supporters, Shafiq´s military background offers reassurance
that he can restore order on the streets, a major demand of the
population 15 months after Mubarak´s ouster.
(Additional reporting by Tom Perry, Yasmine Saleh, Marwa Awad and
Samia Nakhoul; Writing by Edmund Blair; Editing by Xavier Briand) (©
Thomson Reuters 2012. 05/24/12)
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