Mohamed Morsi, Muslim Brotherhood candidate, leads Egyptian election
Ballot counting has begun in Egypt after two days of historic voting to choose the country’s first democratically elected president, with the Muslim Brotherhood claiming lead.
Early on Friday morning, the Brotherhood, the country’s most powerful political force, announced that its candidate was in the lead, followed by a divisive former civil aviation minister more closely tied to Mubarak than anyone else in the race.
Mohamed Morsi, from the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party, is one of thirteen people vying for the position.
However, the overall picture will not be clear for some time. The presidential election commission did not plan to release official results until Tuesday.
If no one wins more than half the votes needed for outright victory in the first round, the top two candidates will contest a June 16 and 17 run-off.
The Brotherhood’s estimate was based on results from 236 of roughly 13,000 polling stations. Campaigns were allowed to station observers in the polls throughout the voting and counting process, and the influential Islamist group had placed staff in nearly each one.
The Brotherhood is hoping for a presidential victory to seal its political domination of Egypt, as it already holds nearly half of parliament after victories in elections late last year.
Though Morsi looked relatively secure in his lead, the rest of the race remained unclear, with an ex-Brotherhood doctor, a former secretary-general of the Arab League and a socialist former parliamentarian jostling for second place, according to Brotherhood and local media estimates.
Though turnout around Cairo and other governorates appeared to drop slightly compared to Wednesday, the country’s presidential election committee on Thursday estimated that around 50 per cent of registered voters turned out.
Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, has congratulated Egypt on its “historic” presidential election, and said Washington was ready to work with a new government in Cairo.
“We will continue to stand with the Egyptian people as they work to seize the promise of last year’s uprising and build a democracy that reflects their values and traditions, respects universal human rights, and meets their aspirations for dignity and a better life,” Clinton said in a statement.