Egypt on the precipice: Historic election results expected Sunday
CAIRO • Egypt will release official results from divisive presidential elections Sunday, the country's top elections commission official said, a highly anticipated announcement that will set the course for Egypt's political future after last year's revolution that ousted longtime ruler Hosni Mubarak but left the rest of his regime intact.
Tensions have risen since the June 16-17 runoff vote between the Muslim Brotherhood's candidate Mohammed Morsi and Mubarak's last prime minister Ahmed Shafiq, with both campaigns claiming victory by a narrow margin. The electoral commission postponed official results that had been scheduled to be announced on Thursday, leading to speculation that the military rulers are holding results hostage to bargaining and backroom deals with the Brotherhood on the distribution of power.
Many Egyptians have rallied behind Morsi as a chance to finally rid the country of the old regime, while others support Shafiq as the best bet to counter Islamists and restore stability in the country, which has faced more than a year of mass protests, rising crime economic woes after the 18-day revolution that forced Mubarak to step down on Feb. 11, 2011.
Sunday's announcement could finally determine whether Egypt will be ruled by a member of the long-suppressed fundamentalist Islamic group and make a break with six decades of military rule or remain confined in the parameters of the former regime. In the two cases, the new president will be weakened as the military rulers will be in firm control.
A third possibility is that Egypt remains in a political limbo, if the elections commission decides to annul the runoff vote and call for new elections in some or all constituencies, due to allegations of irregularities by both sides. The military has pledged to hand over power to civilian rule by July 1.
After days of confusion and uncertainty, Farouk Sultan, the head of the Supreme Presidential Election Commission, said Saturday the results would be announced the next day but didn't give further details.
The delay of election results coupled with a series of moves by the ruling military council aimed at consolidating power have largely brought the country to a standstill and raised fears of new violence if protesters are unhappy with the choice of new president.
The Muslim Brotherhood's leaders along with revolutionary groups, have vowed "a new revolution" if their candidate is not the winner, claiming that a loss would prove election fraud orchestrated by the military. Meanwhile, the ruling generals accused Islamists of stirring tension and threatened to crackdown on any violence by any group unhappy with election outcome.