Morsy is elected Egypt President
Islamist Mohamed Morsy is declared Egypt's first freely elected president
June 25, 2012 10:22 by Reuters
, sparking joy among his Muslim Brotherhood supporters on the streets who vowed to continue a struggle to take power from the generals who retain ultimate control.
Morsy defeated former general Ahmed Shafik in a run-off last weekend by a convincing 3.5 percentage points, or nearly 900,000 votes, taking 51.7 percent of the total, officials said, ending a week of disputes over the count which left nerves frayed.
He succeeds Hosni Mubarak, who was overthrown 16 months ago after a popular uprising. The military council which has ruled the biggest Arab nation since then has this month curbed the powers of the presidency, meaning the head of state will have to work closely with the army on a planned democratic constitution.
Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, who heads the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), called to congratulate the 60-year-old Morsy on his victory, state television said.
How these two men cooperate will determine Egypt’s uncertain path from revolution to democracy and its relations with anxious Arab and Western allies: Tantawi was Mubarak’s defence minister for 20 years and has been close to the Pentagon; Morsy, jailed more than once under the old regime, has a doctorate in engineering from the University of Southern California.
PROTESTS GO ON
Another official at the movement’s headquarters, Gihad Haddad, said demonstrations would also continue to press the army: “The peaceful protests will continue in the squares and across Egypt. The struggle for a new Egypt is just beginning.”
Those who voted for Shafik as a bulwark against a religious rule that they fear will mean intolerance and alienation from the West were fearful: businessman Maged Abdel Wadud, 45, who had gathered with others at a hotel hoping to greet a victorious Shafik said: “This is a very bad day for Egypt.
“I am so so upset. I can’t imagine this man becoming a president of Egypt. This is the beginning of the end for Egypt.”
Western powers, and Israel, have been concerned about the Islamist turn in Egypt. But Washington and Europe, both big aid donors, have also pressed the military to accept democracy, while urging the Brotherhood to respect all Egyptians’ rights.
“This is a truly historic moment for Egypt – a triumph over the politics of fear and prejudice,” a senior Western diplomat said in Cairo. “Egypt has a civilian, democratically elected president for the first time in its history. The Muslim Brotherhood are far from a perfect organization, but Morsy’s election represents a genuine result for the revolution.”
He said he did not expect the movement to push its complaints so far as to provoke the military council to react and take from the presidency those powers it still has:
“The Muslim Brotherhood will take what they’ve got – a prize unimaginable to them 18 months ago,” the diplomat said. “An imperfect presidency is way better than none at all.
“It’s part of the new and delicate act of political compromise, part of Egypt’s new cohabitation.”
Morsy has promised a moderate Islamist agenda to steer Egypt into a new democratic era where autocracy will be replaced by transparent government that respects human rights and revives the fortunes of a powerful Arab state long in decline. Morsy is promising an “Egyptian renaissance with an Islamic foundation”.
Yet the stocky, bespectacled party official appears something of an accidental president: he was only flung into the race at the last moment by the disqualification on a technicality of Khairat al-Shater, the group’s preferred choice.
Questions remain over the extent to which Morsy will operate independently of other Brotherhood leaders once in office: his manifesto was drawn up by the group’s policymakers. The role Shater might play has been one focus of debate in Egypt.
“I will treat everyone equally and be a servant of the Egyptian people,” Morsy said at his campaign headquarters in Cairo shortly after polling ended.
But many Egyptians, not least the Christian minority, remain suspicious of Morsy and even more so of the group he represents. Anti-Brotherhood sentiment, fuelled by both a hostile media and some of the group’s policies, has soared in recent weeks.
Turnout was only 51.8 percent of the 50 million-strong electorate, slightly up on the first round but indicative still of a nation unused to having its voice heard without risking punishment and uncertain of the worth of the candidates.