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Brotherhood claims victory in Egypt’s presidential vote; official results due Thursday

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Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood claimed early on Monday a historic victory for their candidate Mohammed Mursi in the country’s first presidential vote since a 2011 uprising that overthrew dictator Hosni Mubarak.

“Dr. Mohammed Mursi is the first Egyptian president of the republic elected by the people,” the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) said in the tweet that first announced their projected win.

The Islamist group announced on Monday that Mursi won the election, amassing some 13,230,177 votes, according to Al Arabiya TV citing statements from the bloc.

But Egypt’s presidential election committee has claimed it has “nothing to do with the results being circulated,” a senior member of the body said.

The committee is still compiling results from polling stations and will announce the winner of the country’s first real presidential vote on Thursday, Judge Maher el-Beheiry told Reuters news agency on Monday.

“We will compile the results we receive and look into appeals and in principle we will announce results on Thursday,” Beheiry added.

Meanwhile, Mursi’s campaign director Ahmed Abdelati confirmed the projected victory.

Shafiq rejects Mursi’s win

But Shafiq’s camp was quick to contest the claim by the Brotherhood.

“We reject it completely,” Shafiq campaign official Mahmoud Baraka told reporters of the Brotherhood’s proclaimed victory.

“The campaign of Ahmed Shafiq is astonished by the conference of the FJP that represents a violation of the laws of the election commission,” Baraka, the media official of Shafiq’s campaign, said, accusing the Brotherhood of “hijacking the election result.”

“It is the only authority entitled to issue results, however, our counting of the votes have so far showed that we are ahead with 52 percent of the vote but we refuse to break the law and issue any numbers now,” he said.

The latest statements from the Islamist group reveal Mursi has garnered 53 percent of the vote to 47 percent for his rival, ex-prime minister Ahmed Shafiq, with 99 percent of the ballots from nearly all of the country’s 13,000 polling stations counted.

“Its a moment that all the Egyptian people have waited for,” he said.

Meanwhile, there were scenes of jubilation at Mursi’s headquarters, where the candidate himself thanked Egyptians for their votes in brief remarks.

Mursi said he would be a president for all Egyptians and said he would not “seek revenge or settle scores.”

“Thanks be to God who has guided Egypt’s people to the path of freedom and democracy, uniting the Egyptians for a better future,” Mursi said.

He pledged to serve both those who voted for him and those who did not and also vowed to seek justice for those killed in the uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak last year. More than 850 people died in the uprising, and dozens more have in violence since then.

“To all the martyrs and to their families ... I pledge to return their rights through law and in a law-abiding nation,” Morsi said, speaking at the Cairo headquarters of the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party.

Brotherhood officials said the results were initial because there were still appeals to be filed.

“We are reaching out to Shafiq’s campaign to end the elections race and competition and to part amicably as friends,” Mursi campaign official Yasser Ali said.

But shortly before the final result the generals who have run the country since the overthrow of Mubarak issued new rules in a constitutional declaration outlining the president’s powers that made clear real power remains with the army.

“We will sit with the military council to discuss the constitutional decree amendments which we refuse fully and will go to Tahrir Square next Tuesday to protest against these amendments,” Ali said.

Egypt’s ruling military council announced on Monday that the army will hold a ceremony to hand over power to the country’s newly elected president at the end of June, the state news agency MENA said.

Ali also said Mursi would only accept to swear an oath before the parliament that was dissolved by a court order last week.

He pledged to work to “hand-in-hand with all Egyptians for a better future, freedom, democracy, development and peace.”

“We are not seeking vengeance or to settle accounts,” he said, adding that he would build a “modern, democratic state” for all Egypt’s citizens, Muslims and Christians.

Supporters screamed with excitement, some wiping tears from their eyes at the apparent victory that marks the culmination of a long political road for the once-banned Muslim Brotherhood.

The Brotherhood mobilized their formidable network of supporters to observe the vote counting across the country and deliver early unofficial results, but final official figures are not expected until June 21.

The jubilation at Mursi’s headquarters was overshadowed however by a looming showdown between the Brotherhood and the ruling military, which issued a new constitutional document shortly after polls closed on Sunday.

The document issued by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces grants the body legislative powers after a top court on Thursday ordered the dissolution of the Islamist-dominated parliament.

The document also gives SCAF veto power over the text of a new permanent constitution, and states that no new parliamentary vote will be held until after a permanent constitution is approved.

The declaration appeared to put the military on a collision course with the Brotherhood, which called the constitutional declaration “null and unconstitutional.”

The document was issued after a Thursday ruling from the constitutional court, which found a third of the parliament’s members had been elected illegally, effectively ordering the dissolution of the body.

But a new election of the People’s Assembly cannot be held until a new permanent constitution is written and adopted by a referendum, it adds.

The writing of the new constitution will be carried out by a “constitutional commission representing all segments of the society” that will have three months to complete its work, the document says.

It also grants SCAF a veto right over any article of a draft constitution it considers “contrary to the supreme interests of the country.”

The Muslim Brotherhood and revolutionary youth movements denounced the declaration as a “coup” and the Freedom and Justice Party said it rejected any bid by the military to retake legislative power.

And parliamentary speaker Saad al-Katatni, an FJP member, said the constituent assembly appointed by the parliament would continue its work.

The new political uncertainty comes after an electoral race that polarized the nation, dividing those who fear a return to the old regime under Shafiq from others who want to keep religion out of politics.

The new president will inherit a struggling economy, deteriorating security and the challenge of uniting a nation divided by the 18-day uprising that toppled Mubarak in February 2011.

The count

According to poll counts by the FJP at 5 a.m. local time (03:00 GMT) 23,841,259 Egyptians cast their votes, or over 45 percent of the 50 million eligible voters. That number, which was based on 97 percent of polling stations, is expected to rise.

The heavily Coptic neighborhood of Shubra, a district in Cairo, overwhelmingly favored Shafiq with 41,475 votes while Mursi got 11,682, Egypt Independent reported. Meanwhile, in the mostly affluent Cairo neighborhood of Nasr City, Shafiq garnered 27,020 votes, while Mursi got 23,090, according to al-Ahram newspaper. Similarly, in the Cairo neighborhood of Heliopolis, Shafiq led with 33,500, while Mursi got 17,500.

Egypt Independent reported that after counting 46 polling stations in the governate of Qalyubiya, Shafiq beat Mursi with 53,273 votes to 21,140.

Fayoum, a city in Middle Egypt, which has 1.55 million eligible voters, is expected to announce the final results shortly after 32 more polling stations are counted. Mursi is expected to dominate there, as he already has 538,145 votes to Shafiq's 149,139.

Ismailia, a city in north-east Egypt, which has the largest number of voters in the Suez Canal region with 700,515 according the state statistics agency, is close to announcing the final results after counting 194 polling stations out of 201. So far, Mursi has 55 percent of the vote there.

In nearby Suez, with 225,218 eligible voters, Mursi is leading with 109,298 votes compared to 64,973 for Shafiq.

Alexandria, Egypt’s second largest city, which has the fifth-largest number of voters in the country with 3.29 million gave Mursi the lead with 971,096 votes while Shafiq won 712,027 votes in the coastal city.