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  1. ITV Report

Egyptian voters face run-off between bitter rivals

Supporters of Ahmed Shafiq Photo: REUTERS/Suhaib Salem

Early results from Egypt's first presidential election since the Arab Spring suggest the nation will be led by either an Islamist or a military man who served under Hosni Mubarak.

Whilst officials results are not expected until Tuesday, a senior judge has said that the two candidates are in the lead after the results from 90% of the polling stations were counted.

Despite a relatively low turnout - 50% according to election officials, lower according to the Muslim Brotherhood party - the election was largely peaceful and free.

Mohamed Mursi, the Muslim Brotherhood candidate, is leading in the polls so far. But not far behind is Ahmed Shafiq, a former air force chief who served as prime minister under the ousted President Mubarak.

Votes being counted in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria Credit: Mohamed Abd El Ghany / Reuters

Since neither candidate won more than 50% of the votes, they will go forward to a run-off on June 16th and 17th.

The ruling military council, which has appointed itself to oversee the democratic transition, has said it intends to hand power to the new president by July 1st.

For those voting, even the very elderly, it was the first time their vote had made a real difference to the leadership of the country. This video shows a polling station in Cairo.

"People voted for Shafiq for his honesty and clarity which people are craving for. They believed him when he said Egypt is for everyone," said Karim Salem, a Shafiq campaign aide.

Some also believe that his military background and political experience will help him bring calm to a country that has seen almost continuous protests and disorder since Mubarak's fall.

The Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohamed Mursi Credit: Mohamed Abd El Ghany / Reuters

Mursi's success is less of a surprise given the organisational and financial clout of the Muslim Brotherhood, which secured a majority of seats in the parliamentary elections last year.

The Brotherhood has sworn to "galvanise Islamists and Egyptian voters to face the bloc of the 'feloul'" - referring contemptuously to the "remnants" of Mubarak's regime.

Opponents of Mr Shafiq have already promised protests if he is victorious in the run-off.

Opponents of Ahmed Shafiq shout during a rally in Tahrir Square, Cairo Credit: REUTERS/Suhaib Salem

What is more surprising is the failure of the other leading candidates - Amr Moussa and Abdel-Moneim Abolfotoh.

Early on in the campaign, both were seen as the favourites to win. According to the Brotherhood's figures, Foutouh secured around 20% of the vote and Moussa just 10%.

The choice is not promising for Egypt's Christians, who form about a tenth of the population. Either they vote for the Islamist candidate, or for a figure closely associated with the Mubarak regime under which they suffered years of oppression.

Protesters in Tahrir Square, Cairo call for the military to transfer power to a civilian government Credit: REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

Despite two largely peaceful and free elections, Egypt still has a long way to go. The army still controls the country, and has been accused of rejecting a number of presidential candidates on spurious grounds and of abuses during the country's almost continual protests.

One of the president's first challenges will be to put together a new constitution outlining not only his own powers, but also settling the thorny issue of Islam's role in lawmaking.

Whoever wins in June has his work cut out.