Muslim Brotherhood-Backed Candidate Wins Egyptian Presidential Election
In a move not too surprising to those who have followed the Egyptian presidential election, the candidate who is now president of the country one year after its "liberation" is the Muslim Brotherhood-backed Mohammed Mursi (for an extended interview with Mursi delineating his views read this ), who has won with over 13 million, or 51.73% of the votes. This means that at least superficially the Egyptian military is being pulled back from power, and instead the Islamist forces will be in control. How this ultimately impacts the region, and especially Egyptian neighbor Israel, remains to be seen, although a major Islamist power ascending in control of a formerly secular nation will hardly be very beneficial to Israel, especially in the long-run even if the just elected president has pro-western beliefs.
Live Feed from Tahrir square after the jump:
At least initially, Tel Aviv is quite happy with the result:
In a reversal of fortunes unthinkable a year and a half ago, an Islamist jailed by Hosni Mubarak has succeeded him as president of the biggest Arab nation in a victory at the ballot box which has historic consequences for Egypt and the Middle East.
The Muslim Brotherhood's Mohamed Morsy will not enjoy the extent of modern, pharaonic powers exercised by Mubarak: those have been curtailed by a military establishment which will decide just how much he will be able to do in government.
Still, the U.S.-trained engineer's victory in the country's first free presidential election breaks a tradition of domination by men from the armed forces, which have provided every Egyptian leader since the overthrow of the monarchy 60 years ago, and installs in office a group that drew on 84 years of grassroots activism to catapult Morsy into the presidency.
He has promised a moderate, modern Islamist agenda to steer Egypt into a new democratic era where autocracy will be replaced by transparent government that respects human rights and revives the fortunes of a powerful Arab state long in decline. Morsy is promising an "Egyptian renaissance with an Islamic foundation".
Yet the stocky, bespectacled 60-year old, appears something of an accidental president: he was only flung into the race at the last moment by the disqualification on a technicality of Khairat al-Shater, by far the group's preferred choice.
With a stiff and formal style, Morsy, who has a doctorate from the University of Southern California, cast himself as a reluctant late comer to the race, who cited religious fear of judgement day as one of his reasons for running. He struggled to shake off his label as the Brotherhood's "spare tyre".
Questions remain over the extent to which Morsy will operate independently of other Brotherhood leaders once in office: his manifesto was drawn up by the group's policymakers. The role Shater might play has been one focus of debate in Egypt.
"I will treat everyone equally and be a servant of the Egyptian people," Morsy said at his campaign headquarters in Cairo shortly after polling ended, a week before his victory was confirmed by the Mubarak-era body overseeing the vote.
But many Egyptians, not least the Christian minority, remain suspicious of Morsy and even more so of the group he represents. Anti-Brotherhood sentiment, fuelled by both a hostile media and some of the group's policies, has soared in recent weeks.
As he readied himself for the run-off against Shafik, Morsy switched to a more inclusive message and portrayed himself as defender of the "Jan. 25 revolution" that toppled Mubarak - an uprising initially led not by the wary Brotherhood but by mainly secular, liberal groups among Egypt's urban youth.
The Brotherhood has long been at the heart of the movement for democratic reform in Egypt, but he was a hard sell to many of those youth activists, who said his group was slow to join the anti-Mubarak uprising and who subsequently accused the Brotherhood of cosying up to the generals who then took over.
Morsy won few open endorsements from politicians and parties beyond the various Islamist factions, though the "April 6 movement" - one of the protest groups that ignited the anti-Mubarak revolt - was a notable exception.
"We face a decisive moment in our history, we must halt the farce of the former regime," Morsy said in one of his last television interviews before the run-off. "We face a new era and we cannot allow the return of the former regime."
Morsy worked to address some of the criticisms faced by his group. In the last week of his campaign, he put in writing his promises of an inclusive administration, to protect media freedoms and those of minorities, including Christians whose fear of the Islamists drove many of them to vote for Shafik.
He also sought to reassure the generals about his group's intentions. In a June 14 interview, he said the Brotherhood would seek agreement with the military over the next defence minister. The army, he said, would also remain "protector of the interior" for up to two years while the Interior Ministry - a largely unreformed vestige of Mubarak's rule - was restructured.
In any case, the army enacted a court order that same day to dissolve the Brotherhood-led parliament and, as polling ended, issued a decree taking legislative power for itself, among measures that will sharply constrain the presidency.
Morsy travelled across the country, promoting the Brotherhood's "renaissance project" - an 80-page manifesto based on what it terms its "centrist understanding" of Islam.
The son of a peasant farmer, Morsy has spoken of a simple childhood in a village in the Nile Delta province of Sharqia, recalling how his mother taught him prayer and the Koran. He obtained his doctorate from the University of Southern California in 1982 after earlier studying at Cairo University.
Following his studies in the United States, he returned to Egypt in 1985. Two of his five children hold U.S. citizenship.
Head of the Freedom and Justice Party, which the Brotherhood established last year to promote its aims in the new party political system, Morsy has been described as an apparatchik.
His daughter is married to the son of another Brotherhood leader and he has described his wife, who wears a long, cape-like headscarf, as a Brotherhood activist.
The Brotherhood's "renaissance" programme sketches out the group's vision on everything from fighting inflation to remaking ties with the United States as a partnership of equals. It envisions deeper ties with Turkey - a Muslim state which Brotherhood leaders often cite as a model of success.
On Israel, Morsy's views reflect those of the Brotherhood. He has called for a review of Cairo's 1979 peace treaty with its Jewish neighbour, saying Egypt's neighbour has not respected the accord. But the group has said it will not renege on the deal.
Morsy has cited fear of judgment day as one reason for seeking the top office. He said: "We are worried that God will ask us, on the day of reckoning: 'What did you do when you saw that the nation was in need of sacrifice and effort?'"
Previously from CNN:
After a historic revolution that toppled a 30-year regime, Egyptians eagerly waited Sunday to learn who would be the country's first democratically elected president.
Officials braced for violence and the Muslim Brotherhood said it would stage a long-term protest if a former prime minister is declared the winner.
Egypt is set to announce the winner at 3 p.m. (9 a.m. ET) Sunday, according to the Supreme Presidential Elections Commission.
Both candidates have already claimed victory. And hours before the announcement Sunday, both campaigns reiterated the claim.
Former Prime Minister Ahmed Shafik made the declaration on his Facebook page: "President Ahmed Shafik, Egypt 2012."
Mohamed Morsi of the Freedom and Justice Party, the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood, also declared on Facebook that "at 3:00 p.m., Morsi will be Egypt's president."
The claims come amid heightened concerns that Shafik, who served under ousted leader Hosni Mubarak, would give new life to the old guard and essentially nullify democratic gains since last year's Egyptian revolution.
"Did we really have a revolution if Shafik wins?" prominent novelist Alaa al-Aswany said via Twitter. "For the thousandth time this is not a battle between the military and the (Muslim) Brotherhood, it is a battle of the Egyptian people with the military regime that ruled us with an iron fist for 60 years."
Like Mubarak, Shafik is a former air force officer with close ties to Egypt's powerful military and is "the quintessential candidate of the counter-revolution," said Khaled Elgindy, a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington.
Morsi, an American-educated engineer, "represents the older, more conservative wing of the Brotherhood and openly endorses a strict Islamic vision," said Isobel Coleman of the Council on Foreign Relations.
But in an interview with CNN, Morsi said, "There is no such thing called an Islamic democracy. There is democracy only. ... The people are the source of authority."
Each campaign has accused the other of election fraud.
"In the event of Shafik's win, we expect some trouble on the street and in Tahrir (Square), which will be met with an iron hand according to the instructions we have received," said Lt. Col. Usama Emam, a national security officer.
"We are on high alert and so far there has not been any evidence of an imminent threat or plan of sabotage from any Islamist extremist groups," Emam said. He added that Egyptian authorities have arrested "elements" of the Palestinian group Hamas over the past week since Egypt's military rulers isued "de facto martial law and we are still tracking some of their fugitive members who had entered mainly through Sinai and made their way to Cairo."
More than 1,800 ambulances have been dispatched across the country as a proactive measure, the state-run EgyNews agency reported. It also said the country's interior ministry stressed the need to respect peaceful demonstrations.
But the ministry also said it would not tolerate any turmoil against authorities after Sunday's pivotal announcement.
"Minister Mohamed Ibrahim has given police forces orders to shoot to kill against anyone attempting to attack police stations after the results," interior ministry spokesman Gen. Marwan Mustapha said, reiterating government policy in such circumstances. "Increased security has been dispersed in the side streets of (Cairo's) Tahrir Square to protect government buildings."
If Shafik wins the election, the Muslim Brotherhood will stage "a long-term, open-end sit-in at Tahrir Square," complete with bathroom facilities made of bricks, daily food supply and tight security at the entrances of the square, said Jihad Haddad, a political adviser to the Muslim Brotherhood. Haddad cited the Brotherhood's disapproval of the ruling military body's new constitutional decree and de facto martial law.
Egypt's all-powerful military leaders have said they won't reverse their widely deplored constitutional and judicial changes and also cautioned against election-related unrest.
"We will face anyone who will pose a challenge to the public and private sectors with an iron fist," the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) said.
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