CAIRO - Agence France-Presse
Supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood's presidential candidate Mohamed Morsy celebrate at Tahrir square in Cairo June 18, 2012. REUTERS Photo
Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood claimed a victory for its candidate Mohammed Morsi yesterday in the country's first presidential vote since its uprising, but his rival Ahmed Shafiq disputed the announcement.
"The campaign of Dr. Mohammed Morsi announced... his victory as president of the Arab Republic of Egypt according to the results reported by its representatives and counting records from all polling stations," the organisation said in a statement, adding that Morsi had won 52 percent of the vote.
"It's a moment that all the Egyptian people have waited for," said Morsi's campaign head Ahmed Abdelati at an earlier press conference in which he confirmed the projected win.
But a Shafiq campaign official said their figures showed Shafiq, who served as prime minister to deposed dictator Hosni Mubarak, leading in the count.
"We reject it completely," Mahmud Barakeh, said of the Brotherhood's claim. "We are astonished by this bizarre behaviour which amounts to a hijacking of the election results." There were scenes of jubilation at Mursi's headquarters, where the candidate himself thanked Egyptians for their votes in brief remarks.
He pledged to work to "hand-in-hand with all Egyptians for a better future, freedom, democracy, development and peace." "We are not seeking vengeance or to settle accounts," he said, adding that he would build a "modern, democratic state" for all Egypt's citizens, Muslims and Christians.
Supporters screamed with excitement, some wiping tears from their eyes. Several hundred held a victory rally in Cairo's iconic Tahrir Square after the announcement.
The Brotherhood mobilised their formidable network of supporters to receive tallies from polling stations across the country and deliver early unofficial results, but final official figures are not expected until June 21.
The jubilation at Morsi's headquarters was overshadowed however by a looming showdown between the Brotherhood and the ruling military, which issued a new constitutional document shortly after polls closed on Sunday.
The document issued by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces grants the body legislative powers after a top court on Thursday ordered the dissolution of the Islamist-dominated parliament.
Thedocument also gives SCAF veto power over the text of a new permanent constitution, and states that no new parliamentary vote will be held until after a permanent constitution is approved.
The declaration appeared to put the military on a collision course with the Brotherhood, which called the constitutional declaration "null and unconstitutional." The document was issued after a Thursday ruling from the constitutional court, which found a third of the parliament's members had been elected illegally, effectively ordering the dissolution of the body.
The declaration confirmed the military was retaking the legislative power it handed the body in January after its election.
"The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces shall exercise the powers referred to under the first clause of article 56 (on legislative power)... until the election of a new People's Assembly," the document reads.
Such an election cannot be held until a new permanent constitution is written and adopted by a referendum, it adds.
The writing of the new constitution will be carried out by a "constitutional commission representing all segments of the society" that will have three months to complete its work, the document says.
It also grants SCAF a veto right over any article of a draft constitution it considers "contrary to the supreme interests of the country." Egypt's parliament has already appointed a constituent panel to replace an initial group that was dissolved over allegations it was Islamist-dominated.
But the declaration leaves it unclear whether that panel will be able to continue its work, and gives SCAF the right to form a new panel if the current body "is prevented from doing its work." It also stipulates that SCAF "as currently constituted, has the power to decide on all matters related to the armed forces." The Muslim Brotherhood and revolutionary youth movements denounced the declaration as a "coup" and the Freedom and Justice Party said it rejected any bid by the military to retake legislative power.
And parliamentary speaker Saad al-Katatni, an FJP member, said the constituent assembly appointed by the parliament would continue its work.
The new political uncertainty comes after an electoral race that polarised the nation, dividing those who fear a return to the old regime under Shafiq from others who want to keep religion out of politics.
The new president will inherit a struggling economy, deteriorating security and the challenge of uniting a nation divided by the 18-day uprising that toppled Mubarak in February 2011.