Egypt Braces for Protests, Awaits Election Results

Posted June 22nd, 2012 at 5:50 am (UTC-5)
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Thousands of mostly Islamist protesters gathered in Cairo's Tahrir Square early Friday to denounce what they see as a power grab by Egypt's interim military rulers and to call on officials to release the delayed results of last week's runoff.

Egypt's election commission has postponed the results, which were due to be released Thursday, because it says it needs time to investigate fraud allegations by both candidates.

Muslim Brotherhood officials have warned of a confrontation between the people and the ruling military if its candidate, Muhammad Morsi, is not named the winner.

Both Morsi and former prime minister Ahmed Shafiq are claiming victory, and supporters of both men have threatened a backlash should their candidate lose.

Egypt's official MENA news agency is reporting that the election commission could announce the elections results on Saturday or Sunday.

The postponement of election results is only part of the political standoff. In the past week, the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces carried out a series of moves aimed at solidifying its power, including the court-ordered dissolution of the Islamist-dominated parliament.

The council, which has promised to hand over power to civilians by June 1, also declared an interim constitution that gives its generals and the courts final say over much domestic and foreign policy, as well as the process to create a new permanent constitution.

Another element adding to the sense of uncertainty is the health of former president Hosni Mubarak, who was ousted in Egypt's uprising last year and is now serving a life prison sentence for failing to stop the killing of protesters during the revolt.

Security sources have said the health of the 84-year-old, who is said to be in a coma, has improved slightly after he reportedly suffered a stroke earlier this week.

In Washington, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Egypt's military must “fulfill its promise” to turn over power to the winner of a presidential runoff vote. In a TV interview broadcast late Wednesday, Clinton called the military's actions “clearly troubling.”