Egyptian Run-Off Pits Brotherhood Against Military

May 25, 2012  

The Muslim Brotherhood on Friday said its candidate in Egypt’s presidential poll had won through to a run-off next month against ex-air force chief and prime minister Ahmed Shafiq.

“It is clear that the run-off will be between (the Brotherhood’s) Mohamed Mursi and Ahmed Shafiq,” a Brotherhood official told reporters.

The election marks a crucial step in Egypt’s messy and often bloody transition to democracy, overseen by a military junta that has pledged to hand power to a new president by July 1.

However, the second round of voting – slated for June 16 and 17– also threatens further turbulence.

Opponents of Shafiq – deposed leader Hosni Mubarak’s last prime minister – have vowed to take to the streets if he is elected.

But Shafiq’s supporters say his military background offers reassurance that he can restore order on the streets, a major demand of the population 15 months after Mubarak’s ouster.

A Shafiq presidency would also mean smoother relations between the head of state and the powerful military, which is reluctant to cede power.

That in itself underlines another potential emotional lever that could lead to violence, as it puts the rising Muslim Brotherhood in direct competition with the interests of Egypt’s powerful military.

The Brotherhood has announced it will launch a campaign “to galvanize Islamists and Egyptian voters to face the bloc of the ‘feloul,'” a scornful Arabic term for “remnants” of Mubarak’s order.

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