By Natalya Kovalenko
Cairo’s Tahrir Square exploded in jubilation and lit up the sky with fireworks Sunday after the Egyptian Election Commission declared the Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate Mohamed Morsi the winner of Egypt’s run-off presidential elections held last weekend. He polled 51.7%.
His defeated rival, former Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq, polled 48.3%. The turnout amounted to 52%, which is 8 percentage points more than was reported in the opening round which was held in May.
Mr Morsi has already received congratulations from the country’s military ruler Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi.
The announcement of Morsi’s victory came three days late due to numerous complaints about irregularities in the voting process.
Egypt’s first post-Mubarak head of state is 60 years old and holds a degree in engineering from an American university. He is a former Parliament member. His campaign pledges included a clampdown on corruption and the introduction of Sharia law. Importantly, he has already acted on one of his other pledges, namely, to quit the Muslim Brotherhood and its political wing, the Freedom and Justice Party. Morsi has been quoted as saying he wants to be a President of all Egyptians, not only those with pro-Brotherhood leanings.
Under Egypt’s provisional constitution, which was enacted by the governing Generals after Mubarak’s ouster, the Egyptian President is elected for four years and cannot hold office for more than two consecutive terms.
In fact, Cairo is now a city of two ongoing rival rallies. While Tahrir Square is a meeting place of Morsi’s followers, the Nasr City district continues to attract supporters of Ahmed Shafiq. To avert clashes, the army has deployed tanks and issued warnings that any violence will be dealt with.
Dr Boris Dolgov is a leading expert at the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences: “Egypt is split down the middle. Half of its people, mostly the more conservative and less educated folk living in underdeveloped outlying provinces, side with the Islamist principles of Mohamed Morsi. The other half, which mostly consists of educated city dwellers, supports the secularist principles of Ahmed Shafiq.”
Dr Dolgov also expects the jubilation of Morsi’s followers to be short-lived: “Indeed, the governing Military Council has already curtailed the powers of the President by assuming sweeping powers over fiscal matters and lawmaking. The military will be the ruler, not Morsi. As soon as his supporters realize this, they will start protesting against the governing Generals.”