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Home > Arab Spring
Islamist and ex-PM vie for mantle of Egypt’s revolution

(Reuters) / 27 May 2012

The Muslim Brotherhood and a military man identified with the police state of the ousted Hosni Mubarak courted defeated first-round candidates in Egypt’s presidential election on Saturday, each trying to claim the mantle of the revolution for a runoff next month.

State media named the Brotherhood’s Mohamed Mursi and former air force chief Ahmed Shafiq as the top two vote-getters in this week’s first round of a close-fought election made possible by last year’s popular revolt.

Official results are not due until Tuesday to allow the election committee to hear complaints and appeals about the voting. State newspapers cited no source for their vote count, which broadly tallied with previous Brotherhood estimates.          

The choice between Mursi and Shafiq, representing forces that have tussled for the past six decades, has dismayed many Egyptians who voted for candidates offering a middle ground.

The Brotherhood invited rivals, including losing candidates such as leftist Hamdeen Sabahy and moderate Islamist Abdel Moneim Abol Fotouh, to talks on Saturday aimed at gaining their support for the runoff against Shafiq on June 16 and 17.               

Warning of “determined efforts to recreate the old regime”, it said parties that supported the uprising against Mubarak must unite “so that the revolution is not stolen from us”.           

The Brotherhood already holds the biggest bloc in parliament after an election completed in January, but has been unable to assert itself against an army-appointed interim government.               

Shafiq used strikingly similar language at a news conference as he addressed youth groups that spearheaded last year’s popular uprising. “Your revolution was stolen,” he told them. “I pledge to return its fruits to your hands.” Shafiq said that “the clock cannot be turned back”, but that he would not let the country “drown in chaos”.  “No exclusion of anyone or distancing of anyone,” he declared. “Everyone has a right to be a part of this nation.”

On Friday he had told Egyptian television that he saw no problem with the idea of a Muslim Brotherhood-led government if he were elected president.     

The generals who took over when Mubarak quit on Feb. 11, 2011, have promised to make way for a new president by July 1, formally ending a messy and often bloody political transition.

But the military, which has supplied all Egypt’s previous presidents, is keen to keep its privileges and influence in a new order in which the powers of the president, parliament and government are as yet undefined by a rewritten constitution.               

Mursi and Shafiq only narrowly topped the vote on Wednesday and Thursday.

Mursi’s 25 per cent paled in comparison to the parliamentary election, in which the Brotherhood gained nearly half the seats. Reform-minded independents such as Abol Fotouh and Sabahy between them won more votes than either Shafiq or Mursi, hinting at the growth of a new centre in Egypt’s fluid political scene.

“The Brotherhood will have to reach out in a grand and dramatic way to the centre and the other political parties if they have any hope of winning their support and any hope of winning the presidency,” said Elijah Zarwan of the European Council on Foreign Relations think tank.

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