(Photo: Reuters/Mohamed Abd El-Ghany)
Egypt's election commission, which was scheduled to announce the results of the runoff presidential election last Thursday, says it will declare on Sunday who the winner is, former Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq or leader of Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party Mohammed Morsi.
A top official of the election commission told The Associated Press that the election results would be released Sunday even as a local newspaper reported that Islamists were negotiating with the ruling military council to resolve the longtime enmity.
In anticipation of Morsi's victory, the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) last Sunday amended the interim constitution, stripping the new president of all major powers.
Declared on the day the votes were being counted, the amendments grant the armed forces the right to run its affairs independent of the new president, require the president to seek military's approval in case of a war, give legislative powers back to the generals, and give the military considerable authority over the drafting of a new constitution. The ruling council has also indicated that fresh presidential elections will be required after the new constitution is promulgated.
While Egypt's Christians, who account for about one-tenth of the country's population, fear that Morsi's victory would lead to Islamization of the country and marginalization of religious minorities, the generals are worried about their own role in the country if the Islamists come to power. The military and the Muslim Brotherhood have been enemies for over six decades.
After the Islamists won majority in the parliamentary election six months ago, they formed an Islamist-dominated constituent assembly to draft the new constitution. However, a court ruling later dissolved the assembly. And recently, another court ordered the parliament also dissolved.
However, Morsi's opponent, Shafiq, is also not a choice of the majority of Egyptians. Though many voted for him as the lesser of the two evils who can take on powerful Islamists, he is seen as corrupt and representing former dictatorial President Hosni Mubarak.
Both Morsi and Shafiq are claiming victories. But if Shafiq is declared the winner, it will be seen as a result of back room deals and a major unrest might follow.
A recent analysis by the World Evangelical Alliance's Religious Liberty Commission (WEA-RLC) said Shafiq's victory could also lead to violence against Christians, who are believed to be supporters of the former prime minister.
However, WEA-RLC said Shafiq's victory cannot be attributed to Christians' support. "While many Copts saw Shafiq as a candidate who had the clout to take on Morsi, the bulk of his votes in the first round [of the presidential election held in May] came from predominantly rural provinces where few Copts live," the analysis said.
"One can now only hope and pray for peace until fresh elections – both the upcoming parliamentary election and the expected presidential election after the promulgation of a new constitution – are held, if all goes well," it added.