Islamist, ex-military man contest Egypt run-off
Cairo, May 28, 2012
Egypt's electoral committee declared on Monday that a run-off for the presidency would pit a Muslim Brother against a former ally of deposed leader Hosni Mubarak.
The committee confirmed that the Brotherhood's Mohamed Mursi and ex-air force chief Ahmed Shafiq had proceeded to the second round of Egypt's first genuinely contested presidential vote.
Mursi topped the poll with 24.3 percent of the votes, followed by Shafiq with 23.3 percent. Turnout was 46 percent.
A Mursi-Shafiq run-off poses an agonising dilemma for many of Egypt's 50 million voters who are equally wary of Islamist rule or a return to a military-backed authoritarian system.
About half of first-round votes went to candidates somewhere in the middle ground - from leftist firebrand Hamdeen Sabahy, third-placed with 20.4 percent, to moderate Islamist Abdel Moneim Abol Fotouh, with 17.2 percent, and former Arab League secretary-general Amr Moussa, with 10.9 percent.
All three filed complaints about the voting, all of which were rejected by the six judges forming the electoral committee.
The disputes add rancour to an already messy and often bloody transition to democracy since generals took over from Mubarak when a popular uprising forced him out on February 11, 2011.
"I reject these results and do not recognise them," said Abol Fotouh, a former Brotherhood member, alleging that votes had been bought and representatives of candidates had been denied access to polling stations during the count.
"The national conscience does not allow for labelling these elections honest," he said. Of the 12 candidates, only Abol Fotouh has so far rejected the result outright.
The Muslim Brotherhood sought to muster a coalition to help Mursi against Shafiq, who calls Mubarak his "role model". Neither man came close to winning the more than 50 percent of the vote needed to clinch the presidency in the first round.
The close contest has set both contenders scrambling for support, particularly the Muslim Brotherhood, which is trying to draw losing candidates and other political forces into a broad front to prevent a "counter-revolutionary" Shafiq victory.
Shafiq is also seeking wider backing, even posing as a protector of the revolt that toppled Mubarak. Shafiq's supporters see him as the man to impose security and crack down on protests viewed as damaging to the economy. Mursi appeals to Egyptians keen for Islamists to run a deeply religious country within a democratic framework. - Reuters
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