Muslim Brotherhood Candidate Apparently Ahead in Egypt

Posted May 25th, 2012 at 6:10 am (UTC-5)
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Preliminary counts from Egypt's first free presidential race indicate the Muslim Brotherhood's candidate may have a narrow lead over a handful of other strong contenders.

Egyptian newspapers say partial results trickling in on Friday indicate Mohamed Morsi emerged as the top vote-getter, in some regions, in Wednesday and Thursday's polling.

The Brotherhood says its unofficial polling indicates Morsi has a narrow lead over Ahmed Shafiq and will face him in a June runoff. Shafiq, a secularist, served as a prime minister under former President Hosni Mubarak.

Initial results in newspapers indicate several other candidates received strong support, as well. They are Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh, a moderate Islamist supported by some liberals, leftists and minority Christians and former foreign minister Amr Moussa, a secularist who served under Mr. Mubarak.

A victory for one of the secularist candidates would mark a significant turn from parliamentary elections just six months ago when more than 70 percent of voters cast ballots for Islamist parties.

A fifth candidate, Hamdeen Sabahi, also appears to have fared well. He gained steadily in opinion polls over the past week, attracting voters who wanted neither an Islamist or a former regime figure.

Election officials began their first full day of vote-counting on Friday. They say final results will be announced on Tuesday.

VOA correspondent Elizabeth Arrott says voters are generally pleased with how election officials are handling the ballot-counting.

“In the polling stations themselves, they appear to be going through by hand and this has been one of the key things. Everybody has been very glad that they are doing it that way, By having observers watching them be counted in polling station by polling station, it's much, much harder to commit fraud on any large level.”

In all, 12 candidates were in the race. A runoff is scheduled for June 16-17 between the two top finishers.

The winner of the presidential runoff will be announced June 21.

This week's balloting marked the country's first presidential election since anti-government protests led to Mr. Mubarak's abrupt resignation last year.

Whoever wins faces massive challenges – the economy has collapsed as the key tourism industry dried up, crime has increased and labor strikes have proliferated.