Sources close to both the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) and the Muslim Brotherhood confirmed the two sides were heavily engaged in high-level talks that could produce "a political deal", which is likely to include announcing the Brotherhood's Mohamed Morsi Egypt's president elect.
According to a source close to the negotiations, the SCAF wants Morsi to desist from proclaiming himself president-elect, which he came close to doing at a press conference earlier on Friday. They also want him to pull the bulk of his supporters out of Tahrir and to agree to work within the parameters set out by SCAF in its annex constitutional declaration. The annex, enacted by the SCAF earlier in the week, gives the military a share in the prerogatives of the Egyptian president, as well as the legislative powers of the dissolved parliament.
For their part, Morsi and the Brotherhood insist that parliament not be dissolved, and that reelections would be held only for the one third of seats elected in accordance with the individual candidacy system. MPs elected in accordance with the party list proportional representation system, who account for the remaining two thirds of the assembly, would retain in their seats.
The Muslim Brotherhood would also like SCAF to delete from the constitutional annex such language as seems to directly undermine the powers of the president, including his right to appoint the minister of defence.
"A deal is possible; SCAF could settle to limit parliamentary re-elections of the one third of the seats elected in accordance with the individual candidacy system, in return for Morsi and the Brotherhood agreeing that the annex constitutional declaration be kept intact – at least for the moment, said a source who spoke to both sides to the ongoing negotiations.
This and other sources following the SCAF-Brotherhood talks agree that nothing is done until it is done, and admit that there is not a done deal as yet.
If a deal is reached, Brotherhood sources say, then Mohamed Morsi would be "legitimately announced as the elected president "tomorrow, or after tomorrow".
"But if no deal is reached, and if the SCAF insists on taking everything and giving nothing, then we would not be surprised if they announce Shafiq as president," said a leading Brotherhood figure.
Earlier in the day, government sources had told Ahram Online that Ahmed Shafiq, the last prime minister of ousted president Hosni Mubarak, is coming ahead of Morsi with close to one per cent 50.7 per cent of the vote. For its part, Ahram Online was careful to note that it could not ascertain whether this information expressed true intent, or was yet another salvo in the ongoing arm-twisting campaign against the Brotherhood.
Ahram Online's own informal count of the vote, based on the minutes of the general counting committees and the pronouncements of their presiding judges, had shown the Brotherhood's Morsi as a clear winner, ahead of military candidate Ahmed Shafiq by close to a million votes.