Egypt awaits presidential election results

Egyptian protesters march with a huge flag during a rally at Tahrir Square in November 2011 Credit: REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah

Egypt will today release results from their disputed presidential elections, an announcement that will put an end to nerve-wracking uncertainty about who is the official winner.

Both Islamist Mohamed Morsi and former air force commander Ahmed Shafik have claimed victory according to their unofficial tallies, in a result that has been delayed by three days.

But the result promises no resolution to the power struggles between Islamists, the military and other factions.

The country has been split into deeply polarised camps since the June run-off vote between the Muslim Brotherhood's candidate Morsi and ousted leader Hosni Mubarak's last prime minister Ahmed Shafiq.

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 instability.

A Morsi victory is likely to see the new civilian government fight for its authority against a military that has ensured that its powers persist past the transition.

A Shafiq victory will be seen by large sections of the public as illegitimate, as he is perceived as the favoured candidate of the military rulers that appointed the election commission.

The commission postponed official results that had been scheduled to be announced on 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.

Supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood's presidential candidate Mohamed Morsi shout during a rally against at Tahrir Square Credit: REUTERS/Suhaib Salem

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 run-off vote and call for new elections in some or all constituencies due to allegations of irregularities by both sides.

The military, which took over after Mubarak's ouster, has pledged to hand over power to civilian rule by July 1st. But on June 15th, the country's highest court dissolved the country's Islamist-led parliament, calling the law under which it had been elected unconstitutional.

Two days later the generals issued a declaration in which they gave themselves legislative powers, including control over drafting a constitution.

Supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood's presidential candidate Mohamed Morsi surround a giant banner Credit: REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

Brotherhood leaders say the military is holding the election results hostage to get the movement to accept the power grab.

Yesterday, Major General Mahmdouh Shaheen, a member of the ruling council and its legal adviser, would not comment on negotiations with the Brotherhood. He said:

There is no amending of the constitutional declaration. It is just like the constitution

The Brotherhood meanwhile has compiled what it says is a detailed breakdown of election results proving Morsi's victory.

Leaders of the Islamist group have called their followers to Cairo's Tahrir Square, the birthplace of the 2011 uprising that overthrew Mubarak.

Along with some secular-leaning activist groups, the protesters have vowed "a new revolution" if Shafiq is the winner, claiming that a loss would prove that election fraud was orchestrated by the military.

For the sixth straight day, thousands of Morsi supporters and critics of the military held a rally in Tahrir Square, endorsing his victory and calling on the military to rescind its recent decisions and restore the dissolved parliament.

Egyptians gather in Tahrir Square in anticipation of the election results Credit: ITV News

Across town, thousands of supporters of Shafiq and the military held a parallel rally in Nasr City, north of Cairo. This was the largest show of force by pro-Shafiq, pro-military demonstrators since the election.

They raised Egyptian flags and posters of Shafiq and chanted: "Down, down with the rule of the Guide," referring to the title of the Brotherhood's movement leader.

The results are expected at 15.00pm local time (13.00pm GMT.)