Brotherhood campaigners elated as Morsi is named Egypt's next president

Yasmine Fathi , Sunday 24 Jun 2012

After days of mounting tension between rival political camps, Morsi is formally declared president-elect as Brotherhood vows to keep its political promises

Egyptian supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood's candidate, Mohammed Morsi, celebrate next to a giant poster of him at his campaign headquarters in Cairo, Egypt, Sunday, June 24, 2012. (AP Photo)

Farouq Sultan, head of Egypt's Supreme Presidential Electoral Commission (SPEC), had barely finished naming the Muslim Brotherhood's Mohamed Morsi as Egypt's first post-Mubarak president when Morsi supporters erupted into cheers and whistles.

Morsi campaign officials hugged one another and jumped up on chairs, chanting Morsi's name and shouting "Allahu Akbar" – "God is Great" – along with other revolutionary chants and slogans. "We're free revolutionaries," they shouted. "Long live the Egyptian people and the blood of the martyrs."

It was the end of several tense hours in Morsi campaign headquarters on Mansour Street in downtown Cairo, during which pokerfaced campaigners worked diligently in preparation for the moment they had been waiting months for.

Campaign headquarters were eerily silent during Sunday's early hours, with most campaign officials having been evacuated from the building. At around 2pm, however, reporters were allowed into the building's third-floor media centre, where a big screen had been set up in the corner airing footage of the pro-Morsi crowds arrayed in Cairo's Tahrir Square.

Anxiety mounted as 3pm – the designated time for the announcement of final results – came and went without any sign of the SPEC. Tense campaigners waited 45 minutes for the SPEC to begin, and another 45 minutes as Sultan recited a long introduction. Morsi supporters shifted impatiently in their chairs, trying to determine the implications of each statement on their candidate's prospects.

Once Sultan declared Morsi the winner, the office exploded in jubilation. After a few minutes of initial celebration, Morsi campaign spokesman Ahmed Abdel-Atti thanked God for the victory, also voicing gratitude to the Egyptian people whose votes had made the victory possible.

"History will remember this day," Abdel-Atti declared. "Our first salute goes to the Egyptian people, for whom we have so much gratitude. We reached this point through the blood of the January 25 martyrs."

Abdel-Atti went on to stress that Morsi's victory signalled more than just an electoral success. "This is not about elections results, but about the birth of a new Egypt in which all Egyptians will have their rights… and will be able to forge their own futures."

He also thanked Egyptian voters who braved stifling heat to cast their ballots in both a first-round vote in May and a runoff poll earlier this month. "The entire world is looking at this great nation today," he said.

Abdel-Atti went on to express thanks to Egypt's judges for having been able to produce fair poll results despite the criticism they had recently been subject to. He also promised that, in future elections, the Brotherhood would strive to ensure that polling was conducted with full transparency, vowing to "never change a single number, even if it is in our interest."

Morsi campaign manager Yasser Ali then took the podium, once again thanking the Egyptian people for electing their candidate.

"The president of the Egyptian revolution, of Egypt's Second Republic, has already begun work on the Nahda Project," Ali added, referring to the Brotherhood's plan for national revival following 30 years of Mubarak-era autocracy and corruption.

Ali also said that the Brotherhood would not obsess over the past and would focus instead on developing Egypt and promoting national renaissance, stressing that the group was extending its hands to all Egyptian political forces, including women and Coptic-Christians.

At this point, party members asked the people to observe a minute of silence in honour of the martyrs of last year's revolution and to sing the Egyptian national anthem before resuming the press conference.

Abdel-Atti then promised that the Brotherhood would work to fulfil all the revolution's outstanding objectives.

"We will keep our promises; we will work until we have met all the demands of the revolution. We are with the square," said Abdel-Atti, in reference to Egypt's best-known protest venue.

"Welcome to the new Egypt," said Ali. "We will eliminate all forms of discrimination."

Campaigners also thanked the Egyptian army, but stressed that the army was distinct from Egypt's ruling military council. Ali said that the Brotherhood had informed the military council from the outset that the group would thank them when they worked in the country's interest and chastise them when they did not.

Campaign officials also alluded to certain "mistakes" committed during the just-concluded electoral process, in a veiled reference to Egypt's ruling military council.

"Since 14 June, several mistakes were made. We will therefore stay in Tahrir Square. Today's celebrations are only symbolic," Ali said.

When a reporter asked Morsi campaign officials if they had any messages for Morsi's vanquished electoral rival, Mubarak-era PM Ahmed Shafiq, Ali said they would "respect" members of the Shafiq campaign and even hoped for their assistance in building a new Egypt. They had no messages, however, for Shafiq himself.

The group also stressed that Morsi would keep his promise to resign as president of the Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) so that he could assume his post as "president of all Egyptians."

Morsi campaigners also extended thanks to other political forces for throwing their weight behind Morsi in recent weeks. These included the campaigns of eliminated presidential candidates Abdel-Moneim Aboul-Fotouh, Khaled Ali, Hazem Abu-Ismail and Mohamed Selim El-Awa, along with the April 6 Youth Movement, the Revolutionary Socialists and other secular-revolutionary parties and movements.

President-elect Morsi is expected to address the nation within hours. 

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