CAIRO, Egypt -- Egypt's election commission on Sunday announced that Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohammed Morsi has won the run-off election and is the new president of Egypt.
Officials said Morsi took 51.7 percent of the vote, barely edging out rival Ahmed Shafiq with 48.3 percent, according to The New York Times.
At a local cafe here in Cairo, even the chef took a break to join crowds of diners gathered around the television as the election commission chairman announced the results. GlobalPost correspondent Erin Cunningham, tweeting from on the ground at a massive rally in Tahrir Square today, described the reaction:
Thousands gathered in Tahrir as suspense built in anticipation of the announcement after a week's delay. Many of them were supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood, as the group has lead massive demonstrations there daily for much of the past week.
Today's news comes at a time of increasing political uncertainty in Egypt after parliament was dissolved June 14 and the country's transitional ruling authorities increased their power by amending the nation's provisional constitution.
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Morsi's win completes Egypt's first fully free presidential elections in history, marking a pivotal moment for a nation in transition after former leader Hosni Mubarak was ousted by popular protest last year.
However, the new amendments to the country's provisional constitution severely limit Morsi's power. While allowing the president to appoint a cabinet, the nation's new leader now needs the approval of the ruling Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF) to do almost anything else, such as introduce legislation, set dates for new parliamentary elections, monitor the drafting of a new constitution, order the nation's military, or declare war.
But Morsi's election does give the long-banned Muslim Brotherhood an unprecedented opportunity to flex political muscle and build public support -- a challenge in a nation increasingly disaffected with political developments, frustrated by a stagnating economy, fearful of fresh societal turmoil, and losing patience with the slow pace of reform.
Although voter turnout was low, particularly in the run-off vote, Egypt's presidential elections were largely seen as fair.
Shafiq -- a former air force commander and minster under Mubarak -- earlier criticized the Muslim Brotherhood for announcing that Morsi had won the majority only six hours after the run-off vote was held June 16-17, reported the The Guardian.
Morsi, 60, graduated with a degree in engineering from the University of Southern California.