Muslim Brotherhood candidate takes lead as Egypt counts presidential votes (CNN) Cable News Network) By Laura Smith-Spark 05/25/12)
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(CNN) -- Egypt´s landmark presidential election looks set to go to a
run-off vote in which Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohamed Morsi
could face former regime figure Ahmed Shafik, according to partial
results reported Friday.
Ballots are still being counted, and the final results of the first
round are due Tuesday.
Egyptian newspaper Al Ahram Online gave Morsi 26.48% of the vote with
results in from 25 of 27 provinces, with Shafik, who was ousted
President Hosni Mubarak´s last prime minister, close behind with
24.74% of the vote and leftist Hamdeen Sabahy in third with about 20%.
The partial results put Abdelmonen Abol Fotoh, a moderate Islamist
running as an independent, and Amre Moussa, who previously served as
foreign minister and headed the Arab League, in fourth and fifth
places, respectively, Al Ahram Online reported.
Results are still to come from the Cairo and Giza provinces, which
could prove decisive for the first round of voting, the newspaper
The Muslim Brotherhood earlier told reporters that with about 90% of
the vote counted, Morsi -- who heads its political wing, the Freedom
and Justice party -- was in the lead, with Shafik in second place.
If no candidate gets a majority of the vote in the first round, the
top two will progress to a run-off to be held June 16-17. There were
13 candidates on the ballot, although two withdrew from the race
after ballots were printed.
Whoever wins the historic vote will become Egypt´s first freely
But if the first round results in a run-off between Morsi and Shafik,
many Egyptians -- particularly liberals and "revolutionaries" -- will
be very disappointed, said Khaled Elgindy, a visiting fellow at the
Brookings Institution in Washington who is currently in Egypt.
"A lot of Egyptians will feel like this is the worst choice that they
would have to make because if it really is between Morsi and Shafik,
then these are the two most polarizing candidates," he said.
Many people may opt to stay at home rather than make a "very
difficult choice" in the run-off, Elgindy said.
It is hard to predict where the votes of liberals and revolutionaries
will go if they do participate, but the Muslim Brotherhood will have
to work hard if it wants to win them over, having alienated many in
the past, he said.
There is also a chance of further protests and even violence,
regardless of who wins, Elgindy said, as revolutionary elements
become increasingly marginalized and radicalized.
"There is a likelihood of a ´revolution part 2,´ and there is also a
growing likelihood of violence," he said. "There are elements that
are itching for confrontation on the streets because that´s where
they feel they are strong."
Elgindy believes the biggest winner could be the country´s current
military leadership, which has still to detail the powers of the
presidency and may see the election of an ally in Shafik. If Morsi
were to win, the military leadership would be likely to constrain the
powers of the president, he said -- and in any case is likely to keep
control of key areas such as defense and foreign policy.
The early results don´t appear to suggest a surge in support for the
Islamists, despite Morsi edging ahead, Elgindy said.
Together, the two main Islamist candidates -- Morsi and Abol Fotoh --
seem to have taken about 40% of the vote, he said, a significant drop
in share from the 70% of seats won in parliamentary elections in
January by Freedom and Justice and another Islamist party.
This fits with a trend in the last six months against the Islamist
factions and toward stability, Elgindy said.
"This has worked to the advantage of someone like Shafik who can
capitalize on the fact that people are worried, are becoming more
fearful about the security situation. (There is) also a lot of fear-
mongering about the Islamists," he said.
"People are disaffected with the Islamists because they saw they had
a couple of months in parliament and didn´t do much -- and there´s a
growing sense that maybe they are trying to hijack the revolution and
That said, the apparent success of Morsi and Shafik is not a surprise
in that they come from the two most organized, best resourced camps
in the election, he said: the Brotherhood and the remnants of the old
Morsi is an American-educated engineer who vows to stand for
democracy, women´s rights and peaceful relations with Israel if he
wins the Egyptian presidency. He´s also an Islamist figure who has
argued for barring women from the Egyptian presidency and called
Israeli leaders "vampires" and "killers."
The Muslim Brotherhood had originally pledged not to seek the
Shafik, a former air force officer with close ties to Egypt´s
powerful military, is seen as representing the interests of the old
guard -- those who lost out when President Mubarak was ousted.
Mubarak led the North African nation for 30 years before being forced
out last year amid a popular outcry.
He is awaiting a court´s verdict and could potentially face the death
penalty after going on trial for corruption and allegedly ordering
the killing of anti-government protesters.
About half all Egypt´s roughly 50 million registered voters had cast
ballots by the end of Thursday, the second and final day in the
nation´s historic presidential election, said Farouk Sultan, head of
the Higher Presidential Committee.
Amid worries by some that Egypt´s current military rulers might
somehow hijack the election, Sultan detailed the vote counting
process -- including checks and balances aimed at ensuring
According to the committee head, votes will be tallied in the various
polling locales by a judge and in the presence of representatives of
the candidates. Each final count will be announced aloud, then an
official report will be filed that can be viewed by nonprofit groups,
the media and candidates, Sultan said.
The voting is a monumental achievement for those who worked to topple
Mubarak in one of the seminal developments of the Arab Spring more
than a year ago. And it could reverberate far beyond the country´s
borders, since Egypt is in many ways the center of gravity of the
Distrust and anger in Egypt, particularly against the military´s
power in governmental affairs, have inspired continued protests, some
of which have been marked by deadly clashes.
Many protesters are upset about what they see as the slow pace of
reform since Mubarak´s ouster. Some are also concerned that the
country´s military leadership is delaying the transition to civilian
Worries about the powerful military possibly swaying this week´s vote
persist despite the insistence of the Supreme Council of the Armed
Forces that it will hand over power to an elected civilian government.
The military leaders put armored personnel carriers on the streets
with loudspeakers broadcasting a message that they will relinquish
power, but that did not convince doubters.
In January, two Islamist parties -- the Freedom and Justice Party
with 235 seats and the conservative Al Nour party with 121 seats --
won about 70% of the seats in the lower house of parliament in the
first elections for an elected governing body in the post-Mubarak
era. The rest of the assembly´s 498 seats were divided among other
Journalist Mohamed Fadel Fahmy reported from Cairo, and CNN´s Laura
Smith-Spark from London and Salma Abdelaziz from Atlanta. (© 2012
Cable News Network 05/25/12)
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