After days of delay, Egypt's electoral commission finally announced Mohammed Morsi as Egypt's first democratically elected president on Sunday, but supporters vow to stay on in Tahrir Square until military rule ceases.
Thousands of supporters of Morsi's Freedom and Justice Party, founded by the Muslim Brotherhood in April last year, gathered in Tahrir Square to celebrate as electoral commission head Farouk Sultan read the results of the presidential poll.
Morsi, an engineering professor, won 51.73 percent of the vote, Sultan said.
He narrowly beat Ahmed Shafiq, the last prime minister under former dictator Hosni Mubarak's regime who polled 48.27 percent of the vote.
"This is the end of an important phase in the history of building our democracy," Sultan said during an almost hour-long speech.
Tens of thousands of Morsi's supporters chanted, waved Egyptian flags and fired bullets into the air as loud drums sounded across Tahrir Square, the focal point of the uprising that saw the ouster of Hosni Mubarak last year.
"I wished to announce the results in a festive atmosphere that is not marred by anything ...but it came amid tension," Sultan added in the media conference.
Supporters of the Freedom and Justice Party had gathered at the square in the days following the election, refusing to move until the electoral commission announced a decisive winner of last Sunday's vote.
Following Sunday's announcement, Brotherhood official Mohamed al-Beltagui said the group vowed to pursue a sit-in at the square to protest a military decree allowing it sweeping legislative powers, including control over the country's constitution and a broad say in government policy.
The military had previously vowed to hand over power to the new president after the election results. However, under the new rules, it would retain legislative powers and control over finances.
Unlike Mubarak, Morsi will have no power to remove military council members, or to appoint new ones.
International leaders from across the Middle East, the Americas, Europe and the pacific praised Morsi's "historic" win.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague issued a statement "congratulating the Egyptian people for their commitment to the democratic process and electing a new president."
The minister called the Brotherhood leader's win "a historic moment for Egypt" and hailed his pledge to form an all-encompassing government, wishing him "success in the challenging task ahead."
"It will be important for the new government to stand for national unity and reconciliation, to build bridges across Egyptian society and to uphold human rights, including the rights of women and religious minorities, and the rule of law," emphasized Hague.
jlw/bk (Reuters, dpa, AP, AFP)