Protests have broken out in Egypt following the announcement that the country's former prime minister and a Muslim Brotherhood party leader will be competing in a runoff to be the next president, with voters claiming the election was rigged.
Just hours after Egypt's election commission announced that Ahmed Shafiq and Mohammed Mursi, the candidate representing the hardline Muslim Brotherhood, would be vying for votes in a runoff election June 16-17, protests in cities such as Cairo, Alexandria, and Suez erupted. Shafiq was appointed prime minister by former President Hosni Mubarak and removed shortly after the former president was deposed.
Claiming that their first democratic presidential elections were rigged, protesters took to the streets with some setting fire to Shafiq's campaign headquarters in the Dokki neighborhood of Cairo on Monday. No causalities were reported, but eight people were arrested in the incident.
Distraught revolutionaries, who removed Mubarak during the Arab Spring uprisings, believe a victory for Shafiq or Mursi would bring troubling results, and not the reformed Egypt they had hoped for.
"The choice can't be between a religious state and an autocratic state. Then we have done nothing," one protester sitting in Tahrir Square told The Associated Press on Monday.
"We want someone who represents the square," another protester said.
In some parts of the country supporters of Shafiq and Mursi also took to the streets to defend the candidates.
Last week's elections – the first free and fair presidential elections the country has had in 60 years – witnessed about 50 percent of voters come out to voice their choice for Egypt's future leader, but the entire population remains disputed over who should lead the country.
The Muslim Brotherhood's Mursi took home 24.77 percent of the vote, while Shafiq walked away with 23.66 percent, according to reports. The two candidates represent polar opposites of the political spectrum in Egypt and leave many Egyptians hoping for relief from the Mubarak regime feeling marginalized.
Experts have also expressed concern that if a hardliner like Mursi is elected to the presidency that issues such as human rights, women's rights, religious freedom, and the safety of the Coptic Christian community, which make up around 10 percent of the country's population, would be put in jeopardy.
On Monday, Mursi sought to silence critics by promising both women and Christians full access to rights should he be elected to the presidency.
At the press conference Mursi promised to protect Egyptian women's right to work and said that if he came into power there would be "no imposition on women to wear the veil."
He additionally attempted to reach out to the Coptic Christian community, suggesting that Copts will participate "in a presidential institution."
"Our Christian brothers, let's be clear, are national partners and have full rights like Muslims" Mursi said on Monday.