May 25, 2013
Egyptians take Cairo’s streets after election results delay
Allegations of fraud delayed the result of Egypt's presidential election today, fraying nerves as the Muslim Brotherhood, which claims victory, called for street protests against moves by the ruling generals to deny them power.
Hundreds of protesters gathered for a third day in Cairo's Tahrir Square, cauldron of the revolution that overthrew Hosni Mubarak 16 months ago, to demand that the officers who pushed him aside keep their word and hand over to civilians by July 1.
There is little sign that will happen after the ruling military council dissolved the Islamist-led parliament and set strict limits on the new president's powers. But prominent Islamists dampened talk of violence, for all their promise of permanent town square vigils until their demands are met.
The state election committee has spent four days collating counts from the two-day run-off ballot but said it would miss a target of today for announcing the result as it was going through hundreds of complaints from both sides. As the weekend starts on Friday, that might mean a wait until Sunday.
"We are taking our time to review the appeals to investigate them properly but, God willing, the results will be announced by Sunday at most, if not before that," Judge Maher el-Beheiry, a member of the election committee, told reporters.
The candidates, Ahmed Shafik, a former general and Mubarak aide, and the Brotherhood's Mohamed Morsy have both called for national unity as the delay jangled the nerves of a nation increasingly suspicious of the military and the Mubarak-era establishment, or "deep state", that survived the revolution.
Some see the delay as a bid to pressure the Brotherhood to accept the military decree that curbed the president's powers before any Morsy presidency. The committee insists it is simply a procedural issue to ensure all appeals are fairly assessed.
"Egypt on the verge of exploding," Al-Watan daily wrote in a front-page headline, highlighting worries about how supporters of rival camps will respond if their candidate loses. "Security alert before the presidential result," wrote Al-Masry Al-Youm.
"The interest of the nation goes before narrow interests," said reformist politician Mohamed ElBaradei on Twitter. "What is required immediately is a mediation committee to find a political and legal exit from the crisis. Egypt is on the verge of explosion."
Cairo's cafes and social media were alive with chatter about troops preparing to secure major cities, but military sources played down the idea that there was any unusual activity beyond extra alertness.
Adding to unease, Mubarak was himself back in the news, being let out of the prison where he began a life sentence this month for treatment at a military hospital. Security sources have said the 84-year-old was slipping in and out of a coma but "stabilising". Many Egyptians suspect the generals are exaggerating to get their old comrade out of jail.