Dr. Mohamed Morsi, the candidate of the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party, and Ahmed Shafiq, a former prime minister under Hosni Mubarak, have emerged as the top two candidates from the first round of the Egyptian presidential election.
The two men will face each other in a run-off vote scheduled for June 16th and 17th.
The ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces said it will transfer power to the newly elected president in late June, according to a timetable announced by the council.
The Supreme Electoral Commission announced that voter turnout in the first round reached 46% as 23,672,000 out of 50 million registered citizens cast their ballots.
Farouk Sultan, chairman of the Electoral Commission, announced in a press conference Monday (May 28th) that Morsi received 5,764,952 votes followed by Shafiq who obtained 5,505,327 votes.
Hamdeen Sabahi, a journalist and political activist, finished third with 4,820,273 votes, followed by Dr. Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh, the former Muslim Brotherhood leader, in fourth with 4,065,239. Amr Moussa, the former secretary-general of the Arab League, obtained 2,588,850 votes.
The committee rejected several appeals from candidates who called for invalidating the first round and holding it again.
"The presidential elections were fair and mirrored the Egyptian street in all its different components and leanings, whether they are leftist, nationalist, Nasserist or Islamist," said Hafiz Abu Saada, the general co-ordinator for the Egyptian Alliance to monitor the elections.
Although he said some minor and isolated incidents were officially recorded, Saada told Al-Shorfa that monitors from the Alliance did not observe any intervention by police or security forces during the election process, nor were there violations registered against any of the candidates.
"Everyone has to accept the election results and respect the values of democracy that we aspire to live by in Egypt," Saada said.
A new constitution that will define the president's powers and his relationship with the legislative and executive bodies has yet to be written. Members of parliament, in which Islamist parties have a majority, are seeking to form a constituent committee to write a new constitution.
Shafiq faces a potential disqualification from the runoff if the Supreme Constitutional Court rules in favour of the "political isolation" law, which forbids any former official who worked in the Hosni Mubarak regime within the past 10 years from running in the parliamentary or presidential elections or holding high-level public office.
He was named prime minister by Mubarak on January 29, 2011 and he resigned on March 3rd the same year.
Shafiq is challenging the law in court.
The court is scheduled to issue its ruling regarding the law's constitutionality on June 11th. Parliament approved the law in April and the law was submitted to the constitutional court by the Presidential Electoral Commission to verify its constitutionality before applying it to any of the candidates.
The Presidential Electoral Commission did not specify what would happen if Shafiq was disqualified.
Political experts told Al-Shorfa there were several surprises during the first round of balloting.
"The first surprise came when Aboul Fotouh and Moussa slipped in the election results after recent opinion polls indicated they held first and second place respectively," said political analyst Abdullah Hilmi.
"This is a result of voter bias towards well-organised election campaigns. The lacklustre performance of both Moussa and Aboul Fotouh was a result of a lack of strong organisation and efficient management and their preoccupation with the media rather than [directly] connecting with the [Egyptian] street," he said. "The Shafiq and Morsi campaigns focused on building strong organisational bases in all the governorates and reached almost all of the impoverished villages."
Dr. Imad Gad, a political analyst at the Al-Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies, said the debate between Aboul Fotouh and Moussa was one of the reasons why both candidates slipped in the ranks as each one strongly attacked the other.
"The surprise came when Sabahi obtained over four million votes, which shows that many voters preferred to steer clear of candidates from the Islamist current or those that worked for the previous regime," he said.