The first day of the runoffs to Egypt’s Presidential elections has witnessed little fanfare and moderate voter turnout; a far cry from the feverous atmosphere that gripped the nation in the first round last month.
The Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohammad Morsi, who won by a small margin in may, is facing Ahmad Shafik, a former regime figure denounced by various political parties and revolutionary groups.
On the surface the voting process seems to be going smoothly, with orderly queues formed outside polling stations, heightened military police presence and helicopters flying overhead observing the gatherings. Both candidates appeared at polling stations to cast their ballots.
But in reality the process is shrouded with suspicion and fear for Egypt’s democratic transition.
Shafik was seen as the military’s front man and their gateway to reviving the old regime, which led to widespread protests against his candidacy ahead of the elections. But Egypt’s Supreme Constitutional court ruled that a law that prevents figures from the former regime from running for public office was unconstitutional.
With public opinion largely against Shafik, it seems to many that the military is attempting to consolidate power ahead of a potential Muslim brotherhood victory.
The Muslim Brotherhood led Parliament was disbanded by a court order on Thursday on the grounds that one of the laws governing the legislative elections was unconstitutional.
The recently formed Constituent Assembly, tasked with writing the countries new constitution, will most likely be suspended, and it is reported that the military council will undertake the forming of a new assembly.
Egypt is facing major challenges, chief among which are the deteriorating security situation, an ailing economy and state institutions badly in need of reform. But according to Muslim Brotherhood representatives the biggest challenge in the coming years will be wresting power from the military that has effectively ruled the country for the past 60 years.