Egypt Makes History
The historic Tahrir square had once again become a battleground for opposing sides, as thousands gathered in the plaza to throw their support behind Mohammed Morsi, the candidate representing the Muslim Brotherhood party.
Egypt’s democratic process appeared to be hanging precariously. The military had chosen to delay the disclosure of the election results, a fact that had sent Egypt into a frenzy as the world watched. Finally, at the end of a hour-long speech by the head of the Election Commission, the results were announced.
Morsi had won with just under 52% of the vote, while his opponent had a little over 48%. Tahrir Square erupted into loud cheers, and celebratory gunfire could be heard. It was a victory for democracy, even though the President in Egypt is a figurehead -- much of the country's powers are in the hands of the military. Lets look at the events that led to this momentous win.
Egypt’s Elections: A Recap
Voters, full of hope for a new future, cast their votes for their candidate in early June. We had written about it HERE. After the final presidential race that pitted Ex-Mubarak prime minister Ahmed Shafiq against Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohammed Morsi, Egypt waited eagerly for results. On Monday, Tahrir square celebrated as Morsi and his party declared victory with a 52-48 margin. Shafiq snapped back, claiming that he had defeated Morsi by a 51.5 – 48.5 margin. Both parties claimed victory, although the official results were yet to be announced.
Meanwhile, the military unfairly intervened. Apparently disturbed at the idea of losing power, they drafted a constitutional decree that severely limited the powers of the president and gave the army sweeping legislative authority, including the creation of a new constitution. The army also recently dissolved the Muslim Brotherhood–dominated parliament.
Many accuse the army’s behaviour as that of a military coup after the fall of Hosni Mubarak a year and a half back. Ahmed Shafiq is the military’s clear favourite, and there had been rumours that the military wanted to put Shafiq in power themselves.
How much power will Morsi have? Will he be able to woo the 48% who voted against him -- especially the country's Christian minority who are concerned with an Islamist organization wielding power. Morsi has stated that he would be a president “for all”, representing everybody while upholding Egyptian democracy.
What do we know about Morsi? 60-year-old Mohammed Morsi was born in Egypt and majored in engineering at Cairo University. He earned his PhD at the University of Southern California, before moving back to Egypt to teach. In fact, interestingly enough, his sons were both born in California and are US citizens.
Morsi turned to politics on a whim, serving as a member of Parliament for five years under Mubarak's iron fist. He was always loyal to the Muslim Brotherhood party, and was selected as the president of the party when it disbanded and re-formed. Here comes the most fascinating part -- Morsi was actually set up as the backup Muslim Brotherhood candidate for the presidency. However, the primary candidate was barred from running on the grounds that he had not spent enough time out of prison. And so, Morsi was thrust into the limelight.
Will this prove to be a lucky coincidence? We will have to see how Morsi runs this turbulent, chaos-stricken country still recovering from a military coup following a dictatorship.