Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood Seeks Support from Presidential Rivals

Posted May 26th, 2012 at 12:05 am (UTC-5)
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Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood has invited losing presidential candidates to a Saturday meeting in a bid to garner support for its candidate, Mohammed Morsi, who appears to be headed to a runoff against secularist Ahmed Shafiq.

A spokesman for the Islamist group urged the 10 other candidates to save the “revolution,” as he extended the invitation Friday.

Unofficial results from Wednesday and Thursday's polling indicate Morsi was the top vote-getter, trailed closely by Shafiq.

The Associated Press says a spokesman for Shafiq accused the Muslim Brotherhood of “stealing” the revolution from the youth.

Shafiq was former President Hosni Mubarak's last prime minister before Mr. Mubarak lost power in last year's pro-democracy protests.

Final results will be announced Tuesday. The runoff would be held on June 16 and 17.

A runoff between Morsi and Shafiq would offer Egyptians a stark choice between candidates from divergent paths.

During the campaign, Morsi delivered fiery speeches and vowed his presidency would be based on Islam but not be a theocracy.

A win for Morsi would boost the political clout of Islamist parties who were backed by more than 70 percent of voters in parliamentary elections just six months ago.

Shafiq is a former air force commander. He was appointed prime minister in hopes of appeasing the popular revolt. But because of that connection to Mr. Mubarak, he is viewed with some suspicion by activists involved in the 2011 movement and polarized voters.

Unofficial results show independent candidate Hamdeen Sabahi also fared well and could gain on Shafiq. He rose steadily in opinion polls over the past week, attracting voters who wanted neither an Islamist nor a former government figure.

Some of the other 12 candidates who fared well include 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.

Whomever wins faces huge challenges. Egypt's economy has collapsed as the key tourism industry dried up, crime has increased and labor strikes have proliferated.