The Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohammed Morsi and former Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq, a secularist, have both claimed victory in Egypt’s presidential race and each are accusing each other of cheating. It now matters little who is declared the victor, as the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces seized power over the past week and relegated the presidency to little more than a figurehead.
The latest tally shows Morsi with a thin victory of 51% to Shafiq’s 49%. Thousands of Hamas supporters filled Palestinian streets after Morsi declared victory with the Hamas Prime Minister expressing his hope that Egypt will now “bolster the resistance of the Palestinian people.” Shafiq’s campaign is accusing the Muslim Brotherhood of “hijacking the election” and said its data shows “beyond all doubt” that he won. Shafiq is contesting the preliminary result.
The Shafiq campaign said that election observers have “spotted massive violations from Morsi’s campaign” and that the Brotherhood prematurely declared victory “in order to be able to claim vote-rigging when Shafiq wins.” The Egyptian Coalition for Election Observation has submitted reports of election violations in each side’s favor, specifically ballot-stuffing, vote-buying, ground transportation of supporters, clashes and illegal campaigning.
The Morsi campaign has also filed complaints of “soft fraud.” It says its observers have proof that ballots were printed that already had Shafiq selected and that votes were casted by the deceased and members of the security forces which are not permitted to vote.
The election took place as Islamic terrorists attacked Israel from the Sinai Peninsula. On the day that Morsi declared victory, terrorists in camouflage attacked an Israeli construction crew building a security barrier on the border with assault rifles, an improvised explosive device and an anti-tank rocket. The bomb caused the Israeli truck to crash into a ditch, killing one of the crew-members, who was an Arab citizen of Israel. The Israeli response killed two terrorists. No group claimed responsibility.
Later in the day, Israel carried out an airstrike in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, killing two suspected terrorists on a motorcycle. The Palestinian Islamic Jihad group said the two were its members and they were on a “reconnaissance” mission. The Israelis say there is no connection between the strike and the attack earlier in the day. If Palestinian Islamic Jihad was preparing an attack, then Iranian involvement should be suspected. Relations between Iran and Hamas are severely strained because the two are on opposite sides in Syria. There is no evidence of a break between Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Iran.
On Saturday, two rockets were fired from the Sinai Peninsula into Israel, landing in the Negev desert and near Eilat, with no casualties. Israeli officials told a newspaper that Hamas launched them on orders from Muslim Brotherhood leaders in Egypt, but the Brotherhood said Israel was trying to influence Egyptian voters. A senior Israeli official later denied the Brotherhood’s involvement.
The razor-thin margin between the two candidates makes it inevitable that one side will cry foul when the final outcome is declared on Thursday. The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) prepared for instability and the possibility of a Brotherhood victory by essentially turning the clock back to pre-Arab Spring Egypt, obviously with the exception of restoring the sidelined President, Hosni Mubarak.
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