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Arab World

Islamist Morsi wins Egyptian presidential election

The Muslim Brotherhood's Mohammed Morsi has won Egypt's presidential election. The country's election commission announced the result after days of uncertainty and high tension around the country.

Crowds of thousands broke into cheers on Cairo's Tahrir Square as Morsi was named the country's next president. The 60-year-old US educated engineer received 51.7 percent of last weekend's runoff election, while his challenger, former prime minister Ahmed Shafiq, took 48.2 percent.

"I hope this day will be a day of celebration for the efforts of the Egyptian people," said Election Commission head Farouk Sultan as he announced the result. "The people have shown they are able to rise to the challenge," he added.

Morsi: a profile

Sultan lamented the tensions that had grown in the country as a result of the commission's delay in naming the winner and the skepticism with which many Egyptians viewed the body.

The judge insisted the commission had remained neutral and had "not been led astray" in assessing complaints made over the electoral alleged infractions. They had modified results in some polling stations to take complaints into account, he said as he read out a long statement explaining the actions the body had taken to tally the numbers.

The days-long delay in the publication of results had raised suspicion that the result was being negotiated rather than counted.

Fear of violence

An army soldier looks on as supporters of former prime minister and current presidential candidate Ahmed Shafik shout slogans against the Muslim Brotherhood's presidential candidate

The armed forces were prepared for violence

Egypt's armed forces were on high alert as fears of violence mounted ahead of the announcement.

Tens of thousands of Egyptians had gathered on Tahrir Square in anticipation. Thousands had been protesting in the square since midweek, when officials said they were delaying issuing the results of last weekend's presidential runoff.

Supreme Council weakens presidency

The race polarized the country between those who want to keep religion out of politics and fear the Brotherhood would stifle personal freedoms, and others who fear a return to the old regime under Shafiq's leadership.

Former prime minister and current presidential candidate Ahmed Shafik listens to the Egyptian national anthem before a news conference in Cairo June 21, 2012.

Shafiq was a prime minister under ousted leader Hosni Mubarak

Morsi will enter an office weaker than he expected when he began campaigning. The ruling military council, which had promised to hand over power to civilians by July 1, dissolved the parliament on the eve of the election and then issued a decree, setting strict limits on the powers of whoever would be elected president.

The ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces assumed legislative powers after a court ordered the Islamist-led parliament dissolved and issued decrees giving the army powers of arrest and a broad say in government policy, curbing the powers of the president.

Protesters have been in Tahrir Square since the constitutional document was issued last Sunday.

ncy/jlw (AP, Reuters)

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