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Activists, ex-presidential hopefuls react to Morsi presidency win

Egyptian political activists, eliminated presidential contenders react to Muslim Brotherhood candidate's electoral victory with mix of surprise and cautious optimism

Zeinab El Gundy and Nada El-Kouny , Sunday 24 Jun 2012
Tahrir Square
Tahrir Square after the announcement of election result. (Photo: Mai Shaheen)
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Political parties, former presidential hopefuls and activists have all begun to react to the news of Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohamed Morsi's victory in Egypt's hard-fought presidential election.

Eliminated candidate Abdel-Moneim Abul-Fotouh issued a short statement online congratulating Egypt on its first freely-elected president. He went on to stress, however, that "we must continue our struggle to achieve the goals of the revolution until the complete transferral of power" from military to civilian authority.

Liberal activist Ahmed Badawy, a former member of the Abul-Fotouh campaign and director of local NGO the Egyptian Democratic Centre, said: "We're happy; we're celebrating at the centre now, and we'll head to Tahrir Square directly."

Badawy went on to tell Ahram Online: "The vote results show that the revolution has made enormous progress. There was no electoral fraud and we voted in the country's first civilian president in 60 years."

Ibrahim Houdabi, a social democrat of Islamist leanings, said: "I'm happy, but it's only a partial victory. It's not just about who's in the presidential palace, but about ending military rule. Protesters must remain in Tahrir Square so as to ensure the end of military rule and the handover of power to a civilian authority."

According to Houdabi, the Muslim Brotherhood should strive to win over other political powers by providing the latter with reassurances within the next 48 hours. "It should appoint a vice president and a national unity cabinet representative of all segments of Egyptian society," he said.

Ahmed Khairy, spokesman for the liberal Free Egyptians Party, told Ahram Online: "The party extends its congratulations to Morsi as Egypt's democratically-elected president, in hopes that he will be a president for all Egyptians. We should give him a chance to see what he will do."

Business tycoon and Free Egyptians Party founder Naguib Sawiris, meanwhile, stated on Twitter: "The rules of democracy dictate that we accept the election results…We congratulate Dr. Mohamed Morsi and pray to God that he will serve as a president for all Egyptians without distinction and uphold the values of citizenship."

Blogger and activist Alaa Seif, for his part, told Ahram Online that he was "happy about the defeat of Shafiq," but was also uncomfortable with the Brotherhood's recent political performance. "I hope they learned a lesson from the dissolution of parliament [earlier this month] and don't repeat the mistakes they made in recent months," Seif said.

Leftist activist Wael Khalil of the 'Masrena' Movement, who initially supported the Abul-Fotouh campaign but who later threw his support behind Morsi for the runoff, told Ahram Online: "This is the choice of the people, which was clearly reflected at the ballot box."

Khalil added, however, that Morsi's victory was not necessarily a victory for Egypt's revolutionary forces, but had nonetheless succeeded in overcoming one of the many obstacles on the long road to democratic transition and civilian rule.

"We continue to stand in complete opposition to the recent constitutional addendum [stripping the president of much of his authority] and the recent Ministry of Justice decree allowing the arrest of civilians," Khalil added. "We also call for the immediate release of the thousands of political prisoners that remain in detention."

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