Muslim Brotherhood member Mohamed Mursi was on Sunday declared the first president of Egypt since a popular uprising ousted Hosni Mubarak, the head of the electoral commission announced.
Mursi, who ran against ex-prime minister Ahmed Shafiq, won 51.73 percent of the vote after a race that polarized the Arab world’s most populous nation.
“The winner of the election for Egyptian president on June 16-17 is Mohamed Mursi Eissa al-Ayat,” said Faruq Sultan.
Mursi won 13,230,131 votes against Shafiq who clinched 12,347,380.
The election, in which more than 50 million voters were eligible to cast their ballot, saw a 51.8 percent turnout.
Few troops were on the streets but security officials said they were ready to respond to trouble. Government workers around Cairo's Tahrir Square, where thousands of Muslim Brotherhood supporters had gathered, were encouraged to go home for the day.
Streets in the center of the capital were very quiet, shops were closed and people stayed indoors, anxious for news and assailed by rumors of results favoring both of the candidates.
The outcome will be historic for the Middle East, but will not end power struggles between the army, Islamists and others over Egypt's future.
Mursi says he won the race to lead the biggest Arab nation, even if the generals who have been in charge since Mubarak was ousted 500 days ago are not giving up their control just yet.
The Brotherhood and liberal-minded activists who galvanized the street last year against Mubarak may react angrily if the election committee announces the winner is instead Shafiq, a former air force commander and last prime minister of the old regime. Like Mubarak, every president for six decades has emerged from military ranks.
Many Egyptians, and millions across the region, would see a Shafiq win as a mortal blow to last year's Arab Spring revolt, despite his assurances of also wanting an inclusive government.
“Egypt waits for the president and prepares for the worst,” wrote Al-Masry Al-Youm daily in a front-page headline, referring to concerns about violence erupting. Echoing that, Al-Watan wrote:
“The Brotherhood prepares the stage for Mursi, and an intense security alert in case of a Shafiq win.”
The new president will emerge with fewer powers than the candidates, pruned by a first round of voting in May, had expected when the army promised civilian rule by July 1.
“Everyone in Egypt is worried. The army must know the result and must have taken precautions,” said Ali Mahmoud, a 44-year-old taxi driver, worried like many Egyptians that months of turmoil is not over yet. “If Shafiq wins, we will have a lot of problems. If Mursi wins then protests should be less.”
The ruling military council, which pushed Mubarak aside on Feb. 11, 2011 to appease the protesters in the streets, has stripped the presidency of many powers and dissolved the Brotherhood-led parliament elected in January.
Yet the presidency is still a prize, even if the vote may only open a new chapter in what has been a turbulent and often bloody transition overseen by the army since Mubarak fell.
An Islamist president of Egypt would be a major milestone for the Middle East, and near unthinkable 18 months ago. It is far from confirmed, but the military, Brotherhood and other officials have given signs they expect it to happen.
Mursi, a 60-year-old, U.S.-educated engineer and political prisoner under Mubarak, declared victory within hours of polls closing last Sunday - a move condemned by the generals. In a sign of continued confidence, he has already met other groups and drafted an accord to form a national coalition government.
His party issued a statement on Saturday saying it had called on “all partners in the nation, from all movements, to take part in this national platform, to guarantee the success of what we have achieved and their active participation in rebuilding the country in the manner it deserves”.
One of those involved, Abdel Gelil Mostafa of the reformist National Association for Change, told Reuters on Saturday: “We agreed on a general program, especially for if Mursi won.
By contrast supporters of Shafiq, 70, who was Mubarak’s last prime minister in his final desperate days, kept a low profile, although he did declare publicly on Thursday he was confident.
pts to keep a strong grip on power and said, “The military has to assume an appropriate role, which is not to try to interfere with, dominate or subvert the constitutional authority.”
U.S. officials had earlier expressed concern that a Shafiq victory could have dangerous fallout, with protests and ensuing instability that could lead the military to take even stronger measures. The officials spoke earlier on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter.