Presidential candidate Ahmed Shafiq’s account of the election runoff outcome remains at odds with the Muslim Brotherhood’s announcement, as Egyptian people await anxiously to learn who will be the first elected president following Hosni Mubarak’s overthrow.
The Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi seemed odds-on to reach the pinnacle of power when the organisation, long oppressed under former autocratic ruler Mubarak, announced early on Monday that he had beaten off competition from Shafiq in the hotly-contested elections.
Their declaration that Morsi had won with around 54 per cent of votes was based on the count from more than 90 per cent of polling stations. Ahram Online's calculations put Morsi's share at 51.89 per cent.
However, Ahmed Sarhan, Shafiq’s campaign spokesman, disputed that result, insisting that the ex-prime minister has the upper hand after the votes from Cairo were counted.
“Shafiq is leading by 250,000 votes now, and that gap may even increase in the next few hours,” he was quoted as saying by Egypt’s state-run news agency MENA.
“I call on the Egyptian people to wait for the official announcement before prematurely drawing any conclusions. The eventual outcome will be completely different from what Morsi’s campaign had announced.
“Morsi’s campaign added many invalid votes in different governorates, which when excluded would show that Shafiq is leading.
“The Supreme Presidential Electoral Commission (SPEC) said it has nothing to do with any results announced by Morsi’s campaign, especially as the counting process is still ongoing in several governorates,” he added.
SPEC insisted earlier in the day that the official result would not be announced before Thursday, while the interior ministry called on the Egyptian people “not to believe any rumours”, in an implicit reference to the announcement made by Morsi’s campaign.
Dozens of jubilant Morsi supporters had gathered in Tahrir Square, the epicentre of the 2011 January revolution, in the early hours of Monday to celebrate what seemed to be a clear victory for their favourite candidate.
Many revolutionary forces, including the influential 6 April Youth Movement which made no secret of its support for Morsi, were also celebrating Shafiq’s supposed failure to succeed Mubarak, whom he considers a role model.
Similar controversy occurred in the first round when the supporters of candidate Hamdeen Sabbahi disputed the initial outcome, which put him in third place behind winner Morsi and runner-up Shafiq.
However, the official result let them down and proved the initial estimations correct.
It remains to be seen whether Shafiq can spring a late surprise that would send shockwaves through Egypt, a country yearning for stability after a transition period marred by political problems and bloodshed.