CAIRO: Muslim Brotherhood member Mohamed Mursi was declared on Sunday as the first president of Egypt since a popular uprising ousted Hosni Mubarak, capping a tumultuous and divisive election.
Mursi, who ran against Mubarak-era premier Ahmed Shafiq, won 51.73 per cent of the vote after a race that polarised the nation.
“The winner of the election for Egyptian president on June 16-17 is Mohamed Mursi Eissa al-Ayat,” said the head of the electoral commission, Faruq Sultan.
Mursi’s victory marks the first time Islamists have taken the presidency of the Arab World’s most populous nation, but recent moves by the ruling military to consolidate its power have rendered the post toothless. Mursi will give a televised address at 1800 GMT, spokesman Yasser Ali told AFP.
Tens of thousands of Mursi supporters celebrated in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, waving flags and posters of the Brotherhood leader, who was jailed during the uprising that overthrew Mubarak early last year.
“God is greatest” and “down with military rule” they chanted as some set off firecrackers minutes after the electoral commission formally declared the result.
Across Cairo, cars sounded their horns and chants of “Mursi, Mursi” were heard.
Mursi won with 13,230,131 votes against Shafiq’s 12,347,380, Sultan said. The election, in which more than 50 million voters were eligible to cast their ballot, saw a 51.8 per cent turnout.
Mursi resigned from his posts in the Muslim Brotherhood and its Freedom and Justice Party, which he headed, after he was declared the winner, the Brotherhood announced. Military ruler Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, who took power when Hosni Mubarak was forced to resign in February last year, congratulated Mursi on his win, state television announced.
And the interim head of the Coptic church, many of whose faithful have feared the rise of Islamists, also congratulated Mursi.
Shafiq supporters who had gathered to hear the result with his campaign team in the suburbs of Cairo were devastated by the result.
“It’s a very sad day for Egypt. I don’t think Mursi is the winner. I’m very sad that Egypt will be represented by this man and this group,” Shafiq supporter Maged told AFP.
The capital was tense before the announcement, with the city’s notoriously busy streets deserted and shops and schools closed.
Extra troops and police were deployed as military helicopters flew overhead.
The Brotherhood has rejected a constitutional declaration by the military that strips away any gains made by the religious group since the popular uprising which forced Mubarak to stand down in February last year.
The document dissolves the Brotherhood-led parliament and gives the army a broad say in government policy and control over the new constitution. It was adopted just days after a justice ministry decree granted the army powers of arrest.
Published in The Express Tribune, 25th, 2012.
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