CAIRO – Egypt was on edge Thursday after the Muslim Brotherhood warned of “confrontation” between the people and the ruling generals unless its candidate is named to succeed toppled president Hosni Mubarak.
A delay in announcing official results from the presidential election runoff, which had been due Thursday, heightened the Brotherhood’s fears of a “soft coup” by the military, which already disbanded the Islamist-led parliament and gave itself sweeping powers.
A senior Brotherhood official warned the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces that it risked a “confrontation” with the people if Mubarak’s last prime minister Ahmed Shafiq was declared the winner over the Islamists’ Mohamed Mursi.
Returning officers had handed stamped results to representatives of the rival candidates after completing their tallies, which Mursi’s campaign has made public. But only the electoral commission can declare the official result.
The commission said late Wednesday that it would delay its announcement while it studied allegations of fraud.
Shafiq’s campaign team, which insists their candidate won the runoff despite the Brotherhood’s claims of victory within hours of the close of polls, accuses Mursi’s camp of printing almost one million false ballots, the state-owned Al-Ahram newspaper reported.
Mursi’s campaign, which has published the results from counts across the country, denies the allegation and accuses Shafiq’s team of bribing voters. The newspaper of the Brotherhood’s political arm, the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), ran a large red banner on its Thursday edition saying: “Sit-in,” above an announcement of an open-ended protest until Mursi is sworn in.
The military has pledged to hand power to the winner by the end of the month.
But Human Rights Watch said Thursday that the decrees issued by the military over the past month cast doubt on the genuineness of its repeated pledges to hand over to a civilian president.
The rights group said a series of decrees by the ruling generals have also set the stage for serious human rights abuses.
The military, meanwhile, issued a new interim charter and a decree allowing it to try civilians before military courts and to take a larger role in decision making even after a new president takes office. “The generals’ relentless expansion of their authority to detain and try civilians now goes far beyond their powers under Hosni Mubarak,” said Human Rights Watch Middle East director Joe Stork in a statement. – Agencies