The Egyptian political scene appeared further divided on Monday as the Muslim Brotherhood proclaimed victory in Sunday’s presidential elections while last week’s dissolved parliament saw the military trying to assert legislative control of the country.
Egyptians voted for the next president in the first such elections of the Second Republic in Egypt, following last year’s popular uprising which saw military-backed leader Hosni Mubarak ousted from power,
The Islamist group’s announcement that their candidate Mohammed Morsi had triumphed with 51.8% of the popular vote was further complicated by his opponent Ahmed Shafiq’s counter-rejections of “his bizarre behaviour which amounts to a hijacking of the election results”. Shafiq was the last Prime Minister to serve in Mubarak’s overthrown regime.
Morsi himself heralded his alleged win with a victory speech from his campaign headquarters, in which he promised to represent Egyptians of all backgrounds and religious dominations as well as “all lovers of peace in this world”.
Shafiq’s campaign team had pre-warned his opponent would claim a premature victory in order to swing public opinion with a publicly-released YouTube video in which it claimed the “evil Muslim Brotherhood” would make such an announcement ahead of the close of voting on Sunday.
Last month’s first round of elections proved to be inconclusive with no candidate showing a clear majority, paving the way for Sunday’s latest round of voting.
Definitive results are not expected from officials until Thursday, but the Brotherhood’s previous assessments of a slim victory in the first round of voting were generally proved to be accurate.
Meanwhile, following Egypt’s Supreme Court ruling on Thursday that last year’s parliamentary elections were undemocratic and therefore the Islamist-dominated parliament should be dissolved pending a fresh round of voting, the intermediate ruling military issued a new constitutional document after the close on polls on Sunday, granting it full legislative powers.
The document also gifted the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces power over the much-lauded new permanent constitution which is being drafted for the former military state.
The Muslim Brotherhood slammed the latest developments, warning that it did not recognise the legitimacy of the dissolution of parliament or the military’s right to establish an interim constitution as a step towards drafting a new one.
The Brotherhood’s speaker in Parliament Saad al-Katatni had previously warned Egyptian Chief of Staff Sami Anan not to issue its constitutional declaration, claiming any such announcement would have no legal standing. However, with the military reportedly surrounding parliament and preventing the entry of legislators, the Islamists have little chance of forcing recognition of the parliament-created constituent assembly, which has scant hopes of survival following the dissolution of parliament.
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton announced she was following Thursday’s Supreme Court decision to dissolve parliament “very closely” and called for the “exact consequences” of the ruling to be “clarified as soon as possible”.
Ashton called “on all parties to ensure a peaceful and transparent environment for the run-off of the Presidential elections” and stressed “the fundamental importance of the democratic process and institutions”, concluding that “the Egyptian people must be able to determine their own future”.
However, not all Egyptians on the ground were as hopeful of a democratic future for the former authoritarian regime. The next president faces the dim prospects of a struggling economy, deteriorating security and divided nation.