Muslim Brotherhood’s presidential candidate Mohammed Mursi’s surprise dawn media appearance in which he claimed victory in Egypt’s first free election was seen as a “preemptive maneuver” to thwart possible vote rigging by the election commission backed by the ruling generals.
The vast and well-organized network of the Muslim Brotherhood began releasing instant results of the vote count shortly after the polling stations closed at 10 p.m. on Sunday. The results showed Mursi advancing in most of the provinces.
His rival and former air force commander Ahmad Shafiq was shown to be leading in few but sizable areas, including the Sharqia province, which is home to both candidates.
About six hours into the vote count, Mursi’s campaign, which had delegates in all the 13,000 plus polling centers across Egypt, compiled results and announced its victory in a press conference at dawn.
After a campaign spokesman said Mursi had secured 52.5 percent of the votes, against 47.5 of Shafiq, the Brotherhood candidate surprisingly appeared to make the announcement himself.
Surrounded by senior Brotherhood members, including the president of the dissolved People’s Assembly, Mursi promised to be the president of all Egyptians and offered a message of “peace.”
“Hand-in-hand with all Egyptians for a better future, freedom, democracy, development and peace,” Mursi said, without clearly stating that he had won the election, apparently leaving it for the electoral commission to formally announce.
“We are not seeking vengeance or to settle accounts,” he said, adding that he would build a “modern, democratic state” for all Egyptian citizens, Muslims and Christians.
Veteran Egyptian journalist Ahmed Abdallah, said Mursi’s “prompt declaration of victory was a smart move against any possible attempt to rig the results in favor of Shafiq.
“Because everything is possible in Egyptian politics, the Brotherhood moved quickly to claim victory and present results from their widely effective network of delegates across the nation,” he said.
“If they had waited until the morning, the results could have been different,” Abdallah said.
In the same vein, deputy editor-in-chief of AlArabiya.net, Farrag Ismail, said the Brotherhood’s quick move to declare victory was “a precautionary measure for fear of fraud.”
In the first round of the elections, Brotherhood held a press conference every hour to announce the latest results “with the January 25 television channel covering the press conferences as a testimony,” he said.
“The Brotherhood’s announcement early this morning was seen by some as a precipitous declaration, but they did it because they did not trust the high electoral commission which oversees the elections and they did not trust the military council, believed to favor Shafiq.”
Supporters of Mursi flocked to Cairo’s iconic Tahrir Square on Monday morning to celebrate their candidate’s self-proclaimed victory.
Any different result in favor of Shafiq, if announced by the election commission this week, would likely anger Mursi’s supporters already celebrating in the streets and would plunge the country deeper in turmoil.
Spokesman for Shafiq’s campaign, Ahmed Sarhan, told the media this morning that the Brotherhood’s declaration was designed to establish a de facto situation to discredit any possible different results that could be announced later by the independent election commission.