CAIRO – Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate Mohamed Morsi was declared Egypt’s new president on Sunday, July 17, replacing deposed leader Hosni Mubarak.
"The winner of the election for Egyptian president on June 16-17 is Mohamed Morsi Eissa al-Ayat," Judge Farouq Sultan, the head of Egypt’s electoral commission told a press conference cited by Agence France-Presse (AFP).
Morsi won 13,230,131 votes (51.2%) in last week’s runoff election, while rival former premier Ahmed Shafiq who clinched 12,347,380 (48.2%).
The election, in which more than 50 million voters were eligible to cast their ballot, saw a 51.8 percent turnout.
The announcement sent thousands of supporters to burst into cheers on Cairo’s Tahrir Square.
Thousands of jubilant supporters waved national flags, setting off fireworks and chanting "Allahu Akbar!" or God is Great, in celebration of Morsi’s victory.
"Say! Don't fear! The military must go!" crowds chanted.
Morsi, a US-educated engineer, will replace Mubarak, who was swept from power by a popular revolution last year.
"This is a testament to the resolve of the Egyptian people to make their voice heard," a spokesman for Morsi said, Reuters reported.
Hailing their candidate’s victory, the Muslim Brotherhood said the world would now see that the biggest Arab nation had now proved it could freely choose its leader.
"The world looks upon this nation as a people capable of choosing a leader of their own free will," said Brotherhood official Ahmed Abdelatti, speaking at a news conference at the headquarters of the once banned group's political party in central Cairo.
The audience erupted in chants when Morsi's win was announced by an election committee.
"Free Revolutionaries, we will complete our journey," they chanted.
"The president of Egypt's revolution, of the second republic, begins his work today to implement the Nahda (Renaissance) project," said Yasser Ali, a Morsi campaign official said.
Analysts opine that the new president will face major challenges in dealing with state institutions.
"President Morsi will struggle to control the levers of state," Elijah Zarwan, senior policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations, told Reuters.
"He will likely face foot-dragging and perhaps outright attempts to undermine his initiatives from key institutions.”
Some expect resistance from powerful institutions such as the army and the interior ministry in dealing with the new president.
“Faced with such resistance, frustration may tempt him fall into the trap of attempting to throw his new weight around," Zarwan said.
"This would be a mistake.”
Last week, the military council, which took over from Mubarak, issued a new decree that curbed the powers of the presidency, meaning the head of state will have to work closely with the army on a planned constitution.
The decree followed a ruling by Egypt’s top court to dissolve the Islamists-led parliament.
The Brotherhood had said it would press on with protests against the army's latest rulings.
Morsi has pledged to form an inclusive government to appeal to the many Egyptians, including a large Christian minority, who are anxious over religious rule.
He has also promised a moderate, modern Islamist agenda to steer Egypt into a new democratic era where autocracy will be replaced by transparent government that respects human rights and revives the fortunes of a powerful Arab state long in decline.
Morsi has also said he will respect international treaties, notably that signed with Israel in 1979, on which much US aid depends."His challenge is to lead a bitterly divided, fearful, and angry population toward a peaceful democratic outcome, without becoming a reviled scapegoat for continued military rule," Zarwan said.
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