Monday 28 May 2012

Egypt: Morsi or Shafik ?

The Egyptian presidential race is headed for a runoff vote June 16-17, and has come down to Mohamed Morsi and Ahmed Shafik .” Shafik (a senior official of the Mubarak regime) received 5.5 million of the country’s 23 million votes, about 200,000 votes behind first-place finisher Morsi, who leads the Freedom and Justice Party, the political wing of the Muslim Brotherhood. In all, 23 million of Egypt's 50 million eligible voters, or 46%, cast ballots in the first round of the election. While Egypt’s voters overwhelmingly chose the revolution over the old regime, their failure to unite on a single platform directly benefited the two winning candidates. Shafik has received strong support from Egypt's Coptic community (Christians) who see him as a bulwark against Islamism, and many of the rural clans that previously backed Mubarak’s ruling party.

In January, two Islamist parties  won about 70% of the seats in the lower house of parliament in the first elections for an elected governing body in the post-Mubarak era ( the Freedom and Justice Party with 235 seats and the conservative Al Nour party with 121 seats). The rest of the assembly's 498 seats were divided among other parties.

 Shafik had been the last prime minister of President Hosni Mubarak (31 January 2011 – 3 March 2011), and had presided over a cabinet in which Zahi Hawass was Minister of Antiquities.

 So will the election of one or the other produce political stability and affect the treatment of Egypt's antiquities and ancient sites? Time will tell.

 Kyle Almond, 'Runoff dilemma in Egypt?', CNN May 28th, 2012

Independent:  'Leading article: Egypt's elections leave its divisions unresolved', 29 May 2012.

'Demonstrators angry at Egypt runoff candidates plan more protests', CNN Wire Staff May 29, 2012.

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