Islamist, Oldliner Confirmed for Egyptian Presidential Run-off

Posted May 28th, 2012 at 11:15 am (UTC-5)
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Egyptian election officials on Monday confirmed presidential vote results setting up a polarizing run-off between the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood's candidate and one with strong ties to the rule of former President Hosni Mubarak.

The count from Egypt's first free presidential race last week show the Brotherhood's Mohammed Morsi as the top vote-getter and former prime minister and secularist Ahmed Shafiq a strong second. They confirm preliminary results released last week.

The runoff, to be held June 16-17, will offer Egyptians a stark choice between candidates from divergent paths.

Morsi netted 5,764,952 votes, slightly ahead of Shafiq with 5,505,327. Socialist Hamdeen Sabahi took third place with more than 4.8 million votes, ahead of moderate Islamist Abdel Moneim Abul Fotouh with a little over 4 million. Former foreign minister Amr Moussa placed fifth, trailing with 2.58 million votes.

The commission said turnout was 46 percent of the 50 million Egyptians who were eligible to vote.

Morsi was not his Islamist group's first choice for its presidential candidate. But he got the role when the Brotherhood's lead candidate was disqualified, and then became a front-runner in a show of the group's political muscle.

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

Shafiq was Hosni Mubarak's last prime minister before he lost power during last year's pro-democracy protests.

The former Air Force commander 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 has polarized voters.

A presidential 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 Egyptian voters cast ballots for Islamist parties.

The presidential vote results were being contested even before they were released.

The expected three top candidates filed appeals with the election commission, alleging violations and fraud. Sabahi called for a partial vote recount in five provinces where the results are in dispute.