Sixteen months after an uprising forced Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to step down, the country may finally have a new leader. On the morning of June 18, Islamist candidate Mohammed Morsi declared victory in Egypt’s landmark presidential election.
While the official results will not be released until Thursday, a tally shows Morsi receiving 13.2 million votes, or 52% of the 25.5 million total votes. His opponent, Mubarak’s former Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq, received 12.3 million votes, or 48%. The count is based on results announced by election officials at each polling center. Morsi represents an Islamic group called the Muslim Brotherhood. If he is formally confirmed as the winner of the election, he will be the Arab world’s first Islamist head of state. Shafiq has challenged Morsi’s claim of victory.
A Historic Election
This is Egypt’s first free presidential election since the pro-democracy demonstrations in 2011. A temporary military government, known as the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, has been ruling the country since Mubarak’s resignation. The military council promised to turn power over to an elected civilian government by the end of June. But before polls closed on Sunday, the council issued last-minute constitutional amendments that would greatly limit presidential authority and keep power within the ruling military generals. This would include military control over laws, civilian arrests and budgets.
The question remains as to whether or not the new president and the military can work together. But Morsi did not express concern over the amendments during his victory speech. He instead emphasized his plan to uphold the democratic principles of the 2011 protests. This new era in Egypt’s history will be one of “stability, love and brotherhood for the Egyptian civil, national, democratic, constitutional and modern state,” said Morsi.
An Uncertain Future
Many civilians are discouraged by the military amendments and are still worried about the future of Egypt. Ayat Maher, a 28-year-old mother of three who voted in the presidential election, believes the same problems exist now as they did before last year’s protests. “The same people are running the country,” she said, referring to the generals who have been in power since before the uprising. “It is as if the revolution never happened.”
Morsi’s opponents say they are concerned about the future of Egypt under an Islamist president. Some fear that Egypt will become an Islamic state under his rule. Morsi tried to calm some of those fears during his victory speech. “We are all brothers of this nation, we own it together, and we are equal in rights and duties,” said Morsi.