Authorities delayed the announcement of the winner of Egypt's presidential election, which had been expected today, and gave no date for a decision, hiking tension as allegations of fraud swirled and each candidate declared he was the victor.
Amid the atmosphere of political confusion, the Muslim Brotherhood claimed there was an organized campaign of allegations against it to mar the election and keep its candidate, Mohammed Morsi, out of the presidency. The accusation raises temperatures and the possibility of a backlash from the Brotherhood if its rival -- former prime minister Ahmed Shafiq -- is declared the winner.
On top of the potentially explosive election dispute is murkiness over the health of the 84-year-old former president Hosni Mubarak, who was ousted in Egypt's uprising last year and is now serving a sentence of life in prison.
Overnight, state media reported that he suffered a stroke and was put on life support. He was transferred to a military hospital from the Cairo prison hospital, where he has been kept since his June 2 conviction and sentencing for failing to stop the killing of protesters during the uprising.
Security officials said Wednesday that he was in a coma but off life support and his heart and other vital organs were functioning. The officials spoke to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the news media.
Egypt's election of a successor to Mubarak was long touted as a landmark moment, the choosing of the country's first civilian president in generations, who was meant to take the reins of power from the generals who have ruled directly since Mubarak's removal on Feb. 11, 2011. Instead, it is turning into a possible confrontation between the Brotherhood on one side and the military and elements of Mubarak's old regime.
In a series of moves the past week, the ruling generals cornered for themselves powers that effectively subordinate the next president and limit his capability for independent action.
A court order dissolved parliament, which was led by the Brotherhood, and the military issued a constitutional declaration that makes the generals the nation's legislators and gives them control of the budget. They will dominate the security system after reshaping a key National Defense Council to keep it under their control, not the president's. The generals will also oversee the writing of Egypt's new constitution.
Hundreds of Brotherhood supporters camped out Wednesday night in Cairo's Tahrir Square, denouncing the ruling military and vowing to stay in place until the parliament is reinstated.
Egypt's Elections Commission said in a statement that announcing the results will be postponed from today because a panel of judges has to look into some 400 complaints over voting submitted by both Shafiq and Morsi's campaign. The commission gave no new date. But its secretary-general, Hatem Begato, told the state-run Al-Ahram newspaper that the winner would be announced Saturday or Sunday.
Some of the complaints were presented Wednesday night, shortly before the commission released its statement. It said that for five hours, the commission listened to lawyers of both camps. Shafiq's lawyers claimed fraud in 14 of Egypt's 27 provinces where they said ballots sent to polling centers were already marked in favor of Morsi.
Morsi's lawyers said the voters' lists included soldiers, who are barred from voting, and the names of dead people.
There have been more complaints about last weekend's presidential runoff than any election since the ouster of Mubarak. Foreign and local monitors say the violations they observed were not serious or large-scale enough to question the legality of the process.
The Shafiq camp says that the former air force commander -- who was Mubarak's last prime minister -- won with 51.5% of the vote. The campaign of Islamist Morsi says he got 52% to defeat Shafiq with 48%.
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