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Islamist Tops Egypt’s Vote Count, But Run-off Needed

Filed by KOSU News in World News.
May 28, 2012

The runoff vote for Egypt’s next president will pit the Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate against the last prime minister to serve under Hosni Mubarak, according to full official results released Monday by the election commission.

Commission chief Farouq Sultan told a news conference that the Brotherhood’s Mohammed Morsi and Ahmed Shafiq, a former air force commander and a longtime friend of the ousted leader, were the top two finishers in the first round of voting held on May 23-24.

He said Morsi won 5.76 million votes, while Shafiq garnered 5.5 million. Finishing a close third was leftist candidate Hamdeen Sabahi with 4.82 million votes.

NPR’s Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson reports from Cairo that many Egyptians are unlikely to be happy with the choice they will have in the runoff. Shafiq is linked to the Mubarak regime and and Morsi comes from an Islamist group that already won parliamentary elections.

“This has made many people here in Cairo that we’ve talked to very unhappy,” Nelson tells Morning Edition. “They feel that the revolution has been cast aside for this old battleground again, Islamists versus the military versus the regime.”

But Nelson said that Shafiq’s strong showing appeared to reflect his campaign promise to restore stability to a country that’s been going through a prolonged period of turbulence.

Many Egyptians “are very tired of the growing insecurity here and economic problems, and they felt that Shafiq, even though he represents the old regime, would actually” be able to deliver, Nelson says. “And I guess many people felt the Islamists, or in particular, Mr. Mursi, were not going to deal with this.”

Meanwhile, Sultan said his commission received a total of seven appeals, and rejected all of them. Four of the appeals were dismissed because they had no legal basis, while the other three were not accepted because they were submitted after the deadline, he said.

Morsi and Shafiq have been the most polarizing of the 13 candidates who contested the first round, setting the stage for a fiercely contested runoff June 16-17. Already, both men have begun reaching out to a broad spectrum of political and demographic groups who didn’t support them in the first round, or nearly half of the 25 millions who voted.

About 50 of Egypt’s estimated 82 million people are eligible voters. [Copyright 2012 National Public Radio]

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