Egypt's delayed election result: 3 takeaways

Election officials say they need time to address complaints from both candidates. Are they being thorough, or are the country's military leaders up to something?

Supporters of ex-prime minister and presidential candidate Ahmed Shafik in front of his campaign headquarters in Cairo: If Shafik, a former air force commander, is declared the winner of the
(Image credit: REUTERS/Amr Dalsh)

Egypt's electoral commission has delayed announcing the winner of last weekend's presidential runoff; an announcement had been expected Thursday. Election officials said they needed more time to sift through 400 complaints of rule violations submitted by both campaigns. The Muslim Brotherhood has declared that its candidate, Mohammed Morsi, won with 52 percent of the vote, based on tallies by its monitors. But Morsi's rival — Ahmed Shafik, who was ousted leader Hosni Mubarak's last prime minister — has also claimed victory. The U.S. is already warning Egypt's military that it might cut $1.3 billion in annual aid if it doesn't transfer power to a civilian government by the end of June. How will the delay affect the already tense situation in Egypt? Here, three theories about what it means:

1. The result will be rigged...

Protesters in Tahrir Square "smell a political rat," says Euronews. The generals who have been running the country since the now critically ill Mubarak was ousted last year have already dissolved the newly elected, Islamist-dominated parliament, claiming sweeping powers they plan to keep until a new parliament can be elected. The Muslim Brotherhood's vote count has been confirmed as accurate by judges and outside observers. As one protester put it: Withholding the result means "there is an intention to rig it."

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2. ...And we already know the winner: The military

Regardless of which candidate is declared the official winner, says Robert Fisk at Britain's Independent, Egypt's military leaders will emerge the true victors. They have already "ripped up" the results of the parliamentary vote the Muslim Brotherhood won, and "decided that they, and they only, are capable of writing a new constitution, and that they, and they only, will define the powers of the new president." The delayed vote result only means Egyptians will have to wait another day or two before the generals "crown the man who will do their bidding."

3. Egypt should brace for a confrontation

The Muslim Brotherhood has already had to stand by as the military took over its powers in parliament, says Richard Spencer at Britain's Telegraph. And the next president, no matter who he is, will have powers clipped by a last-minute army decree. But tensions are rising, and the split vote shows that whatever the result, Egypt is pretty much evenly divided between those who despise Shafik as a relic of the Mubarak regime and those who fear religious rule. But if Shafik, a former air force commander, is declared the winner, Egypt's Islamists will see it as nothing short of a coup d'état. If they feel the military is cutting them out of power altogether, it "could trigger a potentially disastrous confrontation."

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