The Muslim Brotherhoods on Monday claimed victory for their candidate Mohammad Morsi in the presidential election in Egypt, but this announcement was immediately challenged by his rival Ahmad Shafiq, a former official at the Mubarak regime overthrown in February 2011. In another development, shortly after the closure of the polling stations, the ruling military junta has assigned extensive powers.
"Dr. Mohammad Morsi is the first president elected by the people," said the Party of Freedom and Justice (PFJ), the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhoods, on its Twitter account. Dr. Morsi's campaign manager, Ahmad Abdelati, for his part, said in a press conference that Mr. Morsi had obtained 52.5% against 47.5% for his rival Ahmad Shafiq, after counting the votes of nearly 98% of polling stations and taking into account the vote of Egyptians abroad whose results were compiled in recent days.
After the announcement of his victory, Mr. Morsi thanked in a speech at his headquarters for those who voted for him and pledged to work "hand in hand with the Egyptians for a better future, for freedom , democracy and peace ". He also promised to "serve all Egyptians" whatever their political or religious persuasions.
Official results are to be announced on June 21 by the Election Commission.
The announcement was immediately rejected by the camp of Mr. Shafiq, a retired general considered as the candidate of the army which holds the reins of the country since the fall of Mubarak. "We reject it completely," said Mahmoud Barakeh, a campaign official of Mr. Shafiq. "We are surprised by this bizarre behavior which amounts to hijack the election result," he added.
Late Sunday, the military council assumed vast powers greatly reducing the powers of the future president. The new provisions, hotly contested by the Muslim Brotherhoods and the revolutionary movements, are contained in a supplementary statement issued by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF). The new document states that the SCAF exercises legislative powers "until the election of a new People's Assembly". This election can not take place before drafting a new constitution by an ad hoc committee and its adoption "through a referendum," it said.
Drafting the new constitution will be entrusted to a "constitutional commission representing all segments of society" and who have three months to complete its work, it added. The SCAF is also in line to veto any item it deems "contrary to the interests of the country".
The text also gives the right to form a new SCAF constitutional commission if the current instance, dominated by Islamists, "prevents it from performing its work." The declaration also provides that SCAF chief Marshal Hussein Tantawi " has the power to decide all matters within the armed forces, the appointment of its commanders and the extension of their service."