Ballot counting has begun in Egypt after two days of historic voting to choose the country’s first democratically elected president, with the Muslim Brotherhood claiming lead.

The Brotherhood, the country’s most powerful political force, said on Friday that their candidate, Mohamed Morsi, will face divisive former civil aviation minister Ahmed Shafiq in a presidential run-off.

Morsi, from the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party, is one of thirteen men vying to become president.
But the results will not be clear for some time, as major governorates had yet to submit their counts and independent media results showed a former socialist parliamentarian and activist jostling Shafiq for second place.

The presidential election commission did not plan to release official results until Tuesday. The Brotherhood said its prediction of a Morsi-Shafiq runoff was released after 90 per cent of the votes were counted nationwide.

Campaigns were allowed to station observers in the polls throughout the voting and counting process, and the influential Islamist group had placed staff in nearly each one.

Divisive candidate

The presidential elections come months after parliamentary polls, which the Brotherhood won handsomely, earning around 47 per cent of parliament. The hard-line Salafi Nour Party won 25 per cent.

The new president’s powers were meant to be outlined by the election in a new constitution drafted by a special assembly, but opposition parties boycotted the assembly when the Brotherhood was perceived to be using its near parliamentary majority to stack the deck in its favour.  Read more…