Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate has a tough task ahead

Mohamed Morsy is set to become Egypt’s first elected President following a historic election, brought about by an uprising that first expelled the former dictator, Hosni Mubarak, and then paved the way for the country’s transition to democracy.

As a nation gripped in suspense watched, Farouk Soltan, head of the Supreme Presidential Election Commission, announced after a lengthy preamble on Sunday that Mr. Morsy, the Islamist candidate belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood, won a bitterly contested race. He secured 51.7 per cent of the vote, defeating Ahmed Shafiq, who got 48.3 per cent.

Cairo’s Tahrir Square, the ground zero of the revolution, filled by Mr. Morsy’s supporters, erupted in elation as the message of their candidate’s victory homed in.

For the next few minutes, a giant roar seemed to overwhelm the square, where thousands waved the Egyptian flag, while some sought vantage points to express their joy. Emotions, built on the bedrock of anxiety, ran high as both candidates had claimed victory earlier.

Mr. Morsy’s supporters were particularly on edge after the recent rulings by the generals negated much of their previous electoral gains. The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) had earlier dissolved an elected Muslim Brotherhood-dominated parliament, following a ruling by the country’s highest court, which ruled that one-third of the People’s Assembly had been unconstitutionally elected.

Sunday’s announcement was a giant moment for the Muslim Brotherhood, whose candidate managed to scale the highest office of the land, after 80 blood-stained years since the group was formed.

Mr. Morsy’s victory is set to resonate in West Asia and North Africa, where Libya is heading for elections next month, and moderate Islamists, following the example of Turkey’s Justice and Development Party, have triumphed in Tunisia.

Despite the euphoria that has followed the announcement, Mr. Morsy’s task is cut out. The parliament has to be restored, for after its contentious dissolution, the generals have grabbed all legislative powers. The SCAF has also stripped the president-elect of significant political powers by adding a debilitating annexure to an earlier constitutional declaration. The writ of the President, no longer the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, will not run over the Army, which has, in effect, recast itself as a state-within-a state.

The drafting of a new constitution, on which hangs the promise of Egypt becoming a civil state, is set to emerge as a new arena of conflict between the Muslim Brotherhood and the SCAF.

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