Egypt’s electoral commission was set to announce Monday the results of last week’s presidential election, which looked headed to a runoff between an Islamist and ousted strongman Hosni Mubarak’s last premier.
Unofficial results announced by state media and candidates showed the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohammed Mursi in first place and ex-prime minister Ahmed Shafiq in close second after the May 23-24 vote.
The commission was to announce the official results at a 1300 GMT press conference, the government’s press centre said in an email.
The head of the electoral commission, Hatem Bagato, cautioned on Sunday night that “the results announced so far are only indications.”
“The commission is in the process of examining appeals (about irregularities) and these appeals could change certain results,” Bagato told private television station Al-Nahar.
Both frontrunners, who represent polar opposites in the country’s fragmented politics after last year’s uprising against Mubarak, are now trying to court the support of the losing candidates and their voters.
The Brotherhood, which alienated many other political parties after its domination of parliamentary elections last winter, warned that the nation was in danger in the event of a Shafiq victory and pledged to become more inclusive.
It has so far gained the support of the ultra-conservative Salafist Al-Nur party, which had supported independent Islamist candidateAbdel Moneim Abul Fotouh in the first round.
“The High Committee of the Al-Nur party supports Dr. Mohammed Mursi for president of the republic in the runoff,” the party said late on Sunday on its official Twitter account.
The Brotherhood’s Mursi had called a meeting of candidates on Saturday that was ignored by the third and fourth placed candidates in the first round — leftist Hamdeen Sabbahi and Abul Fotouh.
Mursi promised at a press conference after the meeting that his party would be prepared to include aspects of other parties’ programmes in its platform, but fell short of reassuring the Islamists’ critics, who say its wants to monopolise power.
“As president, I will be the president for all Egyptians. (My relationship) with the Brotherhood will be the same as all Egyptians,” he said.
Shafiq also called on Saturday for broad support from former rivals, calling on his competitors by name to join him and promising there would be no return to the old regime.
“I reach out to all the partners and I pledge that we would all work together for the good of Egypt,” he told a news conference.
Addressing young people who spearheaded the 2011 revolt, he said: “Your revolution has been hijacked and I am committed to bringing (it) back.”
The contest presents a difficult choice for activists who led the revolt against Mubarak. For them, choosing Shafiq would be to admit the revolution had failed, but a vote for Mursi could threaten the very freedoms they fought for.
Both Mursi and Shafiq had been written off as long shots just weeks before the historic election.
Electoral commission officials said turnout was around 50 percent over the two days of polling.
The vote followed a tumultuous military-led transition from autocratic rule marked by political upheaval and bloodshed, but which also witnessed free parliamentary elections.
The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, in power since Mubarak’s downfall, has pledged to restore civilian rule by the end of June.