CAIRO – Egypt will release results from disputed presidential elections today, the country’s top elections commission official said – an announcement that will put an end to nerve-wracking uncertainty about who is the official winner, but promises no resolution to the power struggles between Islamists, the military and other factions.
A gathering of secular-leaning politicians criticized on Saturday what they said was U.S. meddling on behalf of the Muslim Brotherhood, which has claimed victory. Other secularists have stood behind the Islamist group, calling it the likely legitimate winner and the best hope in the current circumstances against continued military domination of the country.
The dispute highlights how the country has been split into deeply polarized camps since the June 16-17 runoff vote between the Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate Mohammed Morsi and ousted leader Hosni Mubarak’s last prime minister Ahmed Shafiq, whose campaign also says he has won by a narrow margin.
Many Egyptians have rallied behind Morsi as a chance to finally rid the country of the old Mubarak regime, while others support Shafiq as the best bet to counter Islamists and restore order after a year of protests, economic hardship, and fear about crime and continued instability.
The commission postponed official results that had been scheduled to be announced Thursday, leading to speculation that the military rulers are using those results as a bargaining chip in backroom negotiations with the Brotherhood about post-election division of powers.
In addition to a Morsi or Shafiq victory, a third possibility is that Egypt remains in political limbo: The elections commission may decide to annul the runoff vote and call for new elections in some or all constituencies due to allegations of irregularities by both sides.