With confidence ebbing away in a process Egyptians hoped would secure the democracy they thought they had won with blood spilt on the square over a year ago, those camping out overnight demanded military rulers reverse new orders that entrench the generals’ power and called on the election commission to declare the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsy president.
Across town, in a luxury international hotel, former general Ahmed Shafik, who was Hosni Mubarak’s prime minister when the army forced out the dictator to appease the Tahrir protesters, challenged Morsi’s self-proclaimed victory and said he was sure he had won, despite Islamist pressure on officials. At a televised address to whooping and cheering supporters, Shafik said: “These protests in the squares, the campaigns of terror and the media manipulation are all attempts to force the election committee to announce a particular result.”
Speaking in person rather than through spokesmen as he has through the week, he added: “I am fully confident that I will be the legitimate winner.” He called for calm and unity, saying he would invite opponents to join his administration. In a country where ballot fraud was the norm during 60 years of military rule, trust is low, not least among Brotherhood officials who note that the electoral commission itself is made up of judges appointed under Mubarak. A parliamentary vote in November 2010 that handed Mubarak’s party 90 percent of the seats was one of the triggers for the fury that overthrew him.