Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood party has announced that its candidate Mohammed Morsi has won the presidential elections in the nation's first vote since the uprising 17 months ago.
The organisation claimed on Monday that the Islamist leader won 52% of the vote and projected that he would be Egypt's new president, ahead of the official declaration of election results expected on 21 June.
However opposition candidate Ahmed Shafiq rejected the Muslim Brotherhood's declaration, with one campaign official telling AFP that they were "astonished by this bizarre behaviour, which amounts to a hijacking of the election results."
Presidential candidates Ahmed Shafiq (left) and Mohammed Morsi (right)
They claim that they polling figures show that Shafiq, who held office as Prime Minister under deposed Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak, is in the lead.
Reuters is reporting that an election committee source is saying that Morsi was indeed ahead but the vote had "yet to be officially finalised".
The announcement from the Brotherhood prompted celebrations in Cairo's Tahrir Square, where last year's revolution originated, with Morsi supporters waving flags and leaping in jubilation.
"God has given us victory," Mona Issam, one of the cheering Morsi supporters told Reuters. "God stood by us and lifted the weight of oppression. We wanted an Islamic state. We lived like strangers in our land under the old regime. We were oppressed and Islam was not the law. I'm very, very happy. Thank God."
Morsi thanked Egyptians for their vote, saying: "Thanks be to God who has guided Egypt's people to the path of freedom and democracy, uniting the Egyptians to a better future."
According to Bel Trew, a freelance journalists working in Cairo, Morsi addressed both Christian and Muslims and promised to be a “brother and servant to all Egyptians” and to “build a democratic and modern state with a constitution”.
He also offered "thanks be to God who has guided Egypt's people to the path of freedom and democracy, uniting the Egyptians to a better future."
Speaking to the Huffington Post UK, Trew said those celebrating in Tahrir were brandishing campaign posters and Egyptian flags, and chanted: “The people have removed the regime” and “Leave, leave [Egypt’s de facto leader] Field Marshal Tantawi”.
However, the declaration came as Egypt's ruling military council granted itself wide-reaching new powers. The Supreme Council of Armed Forces (Scaf) has given itself full legislative control, insisting that new parliamentary elections cannot be held until a constitution is agreed.
The move suggests the possibility a showdown between the military council and the new president, as the new powers give the Scaf control over the budget, and are likely to allow them more power over Egypt than the incoming president.
The reality is that whoever wins, the new leader will be forced to work under the military council who have imposed restrictions on presidential power, leading some commentators to declare that the election has been hijacked by a military coup. On Twitter, former UN diplomat Mohamed ElBaradei described the move as a "setback for democracy".
Tension is already brewing after the supreme court dissolved parliament last week. However Morsi told his supporters that he would not "seek revenge or settle scores."
According to Trew, the revolutionary group April 6 Youth Movement has called for mass demonstrations on Tuesday in protest of at the latest political developments.
On Monday, Egypt's official news agency reported that Major General Mohammed al-Assara, a senior member of Scaf, said that the military council will hand over power to the new president at the end of June.