Egypt on Monday appeared to be headed towards its first radical Islamic president with Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohammed Morsi declaring victory in the poll runoff.
Though official results would be announced on Tuesday, the Brotherhood released a tally that showed Morsi had nearly 52% of the votes to defeat fallen dictator Hosni Mubarak’s last prime minister Ahmed Shafiq, who had about 48% votes in what state TV described as a “very close race”.
The count, al-Arabiya TV said, was based on results announced by the election officials at individual polling centres.
If Morsi’s victory is confirmed in the official results, it would be the first win of an Islamist as head of state, in a wave of pro-democracy uprising in the Arab world.
In an overnight twist in Egypt’s march to democracy, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), which has ruled the country since the uprising, issued a decree setting strict limits on powers of the new head of state. The new decree came close on the heels of dissolution of Islamist-led parliament.
The military issued an interim constitution making clear that the generals plan to keep control for now. The last minute power grab raised the prospects of a confrontation.
But as the possibilities of a Brotherhood win emerged, a senior member of the military council, announced that the generals will hand over the power to the newly elected president at the end of the month.