By a very fine margin Egypt chose to vote for change. The long awaited announcement finally came Sunday afternoon. Mohamed Morsi, of the Muslim Brotherhood and head of their Freedom and Justice Party was declared president of the Arab republic of Egypt. The moment is historic, the reactions very mixed. An incredibly nerve wrecking week of suspense, anticipation and a war of rumors; relief was probably the only shared feeling among many Egyptians. Unfortunately, not all were relieved by the results. The result, which split votes almost in the middle, took the loosing half by complete surprise and fear. For those who supported Morsi celebrations rocked Tahrir Square at full blast and resonated around the country.
Congratulations seem to be in order to the winner; this one, however, comes with many strings attached. Egypt’s new president assumes his responsibility with a dissolved Parliament and a legally contested committee entrusted with producing a constitution. In the meantime, he shares his rule with the Supreme Military Council SCAF, who has been in charge since January 2011. One first hurdle seems to be on its way to being resolved. The announcement came after many days of debate; the president-elect is expected to take his oath Saturday in front of the general assembly of the Supreme Constitutional Court as decreed by SCAF. Whether he will be able to appease the millions who support him but directly oppose SCAF and its decisions is yet to be seen.
Although, in his first speech to the nation Morsi made some attempts to calm the fears of many. His organic ties to the Muslim Brotherhood is of deep and justifiable concern to the many who actually voted for him and mainly to the many more who voted for his opponent or abstained from voting altogether. Morsi is said to have resigned his post in the 80-plus-year-old religious group. It remains a symbolic move, not nearly big enough to allay the fears a huge numbers of secularists hold. It is, however, these mounting fears that have pushed the rest of the political spectrum to announce the birth of the “Third Way” in their first steps to creating a united strong opposition.
All eyes will be on Morsi as he slowly assumes a hefty responsibility. Those who backed him in the elections have high expectations, those who didn’t have even higher ones. The millions who abstained are watching apprehensively. Egypt’s president-elect has a challenging task ahead of him. He begins his presidency on a bumpy political road, without a Parliament or a proper constitution to rule with. He will also have to deal with his own background and backyard to broker the delicate balance needed for stability.
The president-elect, whose supporters are adamant to reject the additional constitutional declaration of the still ruling military council have barely left Tahrir Square and are sure to return today in big numbers to protest. His first attempts to broker a peaceful resolution between the demands on the street and adhering to the rule of law was to attend protests in Tahrir Square on Friday and pay tribute to the people before he takes his official oath Saturday and begins the most critical 100 days as the first ever elected civilian president of Egypt.