Egyptian Military Asserts Power as Preliminary Election Results Arrive Between Muslim Brotherhood Mohammed Morsi and Ahmad Shafiq

(Photo: AP)

(The Blaze/AP) –The Muslim Brotherhood has declared that its candidate, Mohammed Morsi, won Egypt’s presidential election.

Morsi “is the first civilian, popularly elected Egyptian president,” the group says on its website.

The declaration was based on returns the Brotherhood reported from 95 percent of the more than 13,000 polling stations nationwide. The returns showed Morsi with 52 percent of the vote, his opponent former prime minister Ahmed Shafiq with 48 percent. A million votes separated the two, which a Brotherhood spokesman said the remaining votes could not overcome the difference for Shafiq.

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The figures were from results announced by election officials at individual counting centers, where each campaign has representatives who compile the numbers and make them public before the formal announcement. The Brotherhood’s early, partial counts proved generally accurate in last month’s first round vote.

The final official result is to be announced by Thursday.

Egyptian Military Asserts Power as Preliminary Election Results Arrive Between Muslim Brotherhood Mohammed Morsi and Ahmad Shafiq

Ahmad Shafiq, left, and Mohammed Morsi (Photos: AP)

As vote counting began in Egypt’s election for the successor to Hosni Mubarak, the ruling military issued an interim constitution Sunday that handed themselves the lion’s share of power over the new president, enshrining their hold on the state and sharpening the possibility of confrontation with the Muslim Brotherhood.

With parliament dissolved and martial law effectively in force, the generals made themselves the country’s lawmakers, gave themselves control over the budget and will determine who writes the permanent constitution that will define the country’s future.

“If it happens that they announce he (Shafiq) is the winner, then there is forgery,” said Brotherhood spokesman Murad Mohammed Ali. “We will return to the streets” – though he added, “we don’t believe in violence.”

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Shafiq, a former air force commander, is seen as the generals’ favorite in the contest and would likely work closely with them – so closely that his opponents fear the result will be a continuation of the military-backed, authoritarian police state that Mubarak ran for nearly 29 years.

A victory by Morsi could translate into a rockier tussle over spheres of power between the Muslim Brotherhood and the military.

Egyptian Military Asserts Power as Preliminary Election Results Arrive Between Muslim Brotherhood Mohammed Morsi and Ahmad Shafiq

(Photo: AP)

Sunday night, the Brotherhood seemed to lay the groundwork for a confrontation with the military over its power grab. It rejected last week’s order by the Supreme Constitutional Court dissolving parliament, where they were the largest party, as a “coup against the entire democratic process.” It also rejected the military’s right to declare an interim constitution and vowed that an assembly created by parliament last week before its dissolution will write the new charter, not one picked by the generals.

However, the Brotherhood has reached accommodations with the generals at times over the past 16 months since Mubarak’s fall, as it struck deals with Mubarak’s regime itself.

It also has no power to force recognition of the parliament-created constituent assembly, which already seems discounted after parliament’s dissolution and is likely to be formally disbanded by a pending court ruling. Lawmakers are literally locked out of parliament, which is ringed by troops.

The race has been deeply polarizing. Critics of Shafiq, an admirer and longtime friend of Mubarak, see him as an extension of the old regime that millions sought to uproot when they staged a stunning uprising that toppled the man who ruled Egypt for three decades.

Morsi’s opponents, in turn, fear that if he wins, the Brotherhood will take over the nation and turn it into an Islamic state, curbing freedoms and consigning minority Christians and women to second-class citizens.

In February of 2011, right after the revolution, the Muslim Brotherhood announced that it would not field a candidate for the Egyptian presidential race

This is a breaking news story.  Updates will be added.