Egypt’s presidential election appears neck-and-neck with both candidates claiming victory based on unofficial results.
The campaign for Ahmed Shafiq, Hosni Mubarak’s former prime minister, said on Monday its candidate was ahead in the presidential race “beyond all doubts” just hours after the Muslim Brotherhood had claimed its candidate, Mohammed Morsi, was ahead.
“The initial indications of the Ahmed Shafiq campaign prove beyond all doubt that he is ahead in the elections despite all the violations,” a spokesman for his campaign said in a statement.
He said Shafiq had won between 51 per cent and 52 per cent of the vote.
Earlier, the Muslim Brotherhood held a press conference to announce Morsi’s victory. With 12,793 of the country’s roughly 13,000 polling stations reporting, Morsi had 12.7 million votes, while his opponent, Ahmed Shafiq, had 11.84 million, the group said.
Morsi’s staff and supporters broke into chants of “down with military rule” after the results were announced.
He also spoke. He addressed the families of the martyrs killed during the revolution, and promised to restore their rights in a “state of laws”.
He also reached out to Egypt’s Coptic Christians, promising that everyone would be part of “his family”. He also said he was not looking for “revenge”, and promised to work for all Egyptians.
“Thank God, who guided the people of Egypt to this right path, the path of freedom and democracy,” he said, vowing to work for a “civil, democratic, constitutional and modern state”.
The Brotherhood’s numbers matched with other unofficial tallies from local and international media. Shortly after 3am local time [00:00 GMT], Al Jazeera’s tally had Morsi leading with 7,896,440 votes (52 per cent), and Shafiq trailing with 7,152,894.
Just hours after the Muslim Brotherhood declared it’s candidate will be Egypt’s next president Morsi supporters started gathering in Cairo’s Tahrir Square.
Rawya Rageh, our correspondent in Cairo, said: “The official schedule as per the Supreme Presidential Election Commission for the results to be announced is on the 21st of June, but as we have seen from previous elections the MB have a powerful organisation representatives at polling stations and almost always their figures turn out to be accurate.
“We are already seeing the celebrations images from Morsi supporters in Tahrir Square for them this is a done deal.”
El-Shorouk, an independent Egyptian daily, had Morsi with 6,820,944 votes, and Shafiq with 5,490,158, a margin of 55 per cent for Morsi.
All of the results released on Sunday night are unofficial and a final tally will not come out until later this week.
Representatives from Shafiq’s campaign told several local media outlets that they would not accept the Brotherhood’s tally, and would wait for final results.
In a statement, Shafiq, the final prime minister under deposed president Hosni Mubarak, also accused the Brotherhood of fraud.
“The Muslim Brotherhood supporters offered large sums of money and food supplies to bribe voters into voting for MB’s candidate Mohammed Morsi,” the statement said. “They used intimidation, threats and violence against supporters of candidate Ahmed Shafiq.”
Turnout was lower than during the first round of voting in May, according to Hatem Bagato, the secretary-general of the presidential election commission, who held a press conference in Cairo on Sunday. About 46 per cent of Egypt’s 51 million eligible voters cast their ballots during the first round.
SCAF issues its constitutional annex
The new president will take office amid great political uncertainty.
The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), Egypt’s military rulers, added to the confusion on Sunday night, when they released their long-awaited “constitutional annex”, a decree outlining the powers of the new president.
Those powers are quite limited: He may declare war, for example, only after seeking SCAF’s approval. The decree also reminds the president that he can call on the military to quell “unrest” inside the country.
SCAF dissolved parliament last week following a ruling by the supreme court, which found the legislature unconstitutional. The court ruled that provisions of the electoral law – which allowed political parties to compete for seats reserved for independent candidates – violated the constitution.
With the legislature gone, the generals reasserted control over the legislative process, and over the country’s budget.
“The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces shall exercise the powers referred to under the first clause of article 56 [the article on legislative power]… until the election of a new People’s Assembly,” the decree states.
The decree issued on Sunday promises fresh legislative elections, but not until a new constitution has been drafted. Before it was dissolved, the parliament appointed a 100-member assembly to draft that constitution; it will be allowed to continue its work, though if it runs into “obstacles”, SCAF will appoint a replacement.
The Muslim Brotherhood was quick to condemn the decree, calling it “null and unconstitutional” in a brief statement on Twitter. Asked about the decree during the group’s press conference, Ahmed Abdel-Atti, Morsi’s campaign co-ordinator, said he expected “popular action” against it in the near future.