Egypt awaits new president as tension builds | News | DW | 17.06.2012
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Egypt awaits new president as tension builds

Voting has closed in Egypt's parliamentary runoff, in an election that saw only low voter turnout. Political tensions have risen over a court decision to dissolve parliament.

State-run broadcasters reported low voter turnout across many areas of Egypt on the second and final day of voting.

Hosni Mubarak's former prime minister and military general, Ahmed Shafiq, was up against Muslim Brotherhood conservative Mohammed Morsi. The vote has been seen by many Egyptian's as a power struggle between Mubarak's old dictatorial regime, including the arm of the ruling military, and the rising Islamists.

The moderate Islamist Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) said Morsi had won 52.5 percent of the vote compared to Shafik's 47.5 percent, with almost all votes counted.

However, Shafiq's camp on contested the claim. "We reject it completely," campaign offical Mahmud Barakeh told reporters. "We are astonished by this bizarre behaviour which amounts to a hijacking of the election results," he said, claiming to have figures that showed Shafiq was leading the vote.

Figures not due for days

There was no immediate official tally, with official results not due to be announced until Thursday.

Many secular and leftist Egyptians say a victory for Shafiq would be a setback for the uprising that ousted Mubarak and raised expectations throughout the nation of a transition to democratic rule.

Following the weekend's election, the military have promised to hand power to the newly elected president by the end of June.

Forty-eight cases of illegal electioneering were detected on the first day of voting. Turnout, only 46 percent in the first round of voting, did not appear to be much higher this time around.

More than 50 million people were eligible to vote at some 13,000 polling stations spread across the country's 27 provinces.

Polls closed two hours later than scheduled to allow voters to cast their ballots later on a day of soaring temperatures.

‘Back to square one’

Egypt's supreme constitutional court ruled earlier this week to dissolve the lower house of parliament, where the FJP and other Islamist groups controlled two-thirds of the assembly.

The ruling means the military will have full legislative powers, in addition to control over the budget, until a new parliament is elected.

"This represents a coup against the entire democratic process and brings us back to square one," the Muslim Brotherhood said in a statement on Saturday.

"We cannot now stand by while attempts are made to abort the revolution's aspirations to freedom, democracy, justice and social justice, and human dignity," the group added, asking Egyptian voters "to protect their democratic gains."

jlw, rc/tm (Reuters, dpa, AP)