Cairo (CNN) – Mohamed Morsi was declared the new president of Egypt on Sunday, following the first democratic election in Egypt’s history.
The announcement triggered massive cheers and celebratory gunfire in Cairo’s Tahrir Square.
Authorities had been on “high alert” for potential violence if his rival Ahmed Shafik won. Instead, the huge crowd erupted in celebration — even in scorching temperatures near 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 Celsius).
Morsi, of the Muslim Brotherhood, had more than 13 million votes, while Shafik — the last prime minister to serve under ousted president Hosni Mubarak — had more than 12 million, election officials announced.
Morsi ended up with just under 52% of the vote, while Shafik got just over 48%, officials said.
The Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party, on Facebook, called the election result a “tribute to the martyrs of our revolution.” It vowed, “We will keep walking on the path.”
On Twitter, the Muslim Brotherhood said the “battle for democracy” and justice hasn’t ended, and “we will remain” in Tahrir.
The presidency is largely a figurehead position, as the country’s military rulers maintain much of the control over the country.
Still, the vote was “a moment in history,” said Abdul Mawgoud Dardery, a fellow member of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party.
“We’ve been waiting for it for 7,000 years,” he said. “For the first time in history we have our own president, elected by us. The power of the people is now in the hands of the president — and the president has to go and move forward.”
Dardery called on Morsi to resign from the Muslim Brotherhood to make clear is is the president of all Egyptians.
Amr Moussa, who served as foreign minister under Mubarak and mounted an effort to win the presidency in these elections, congratulated Morsi. Earlier, he said whoever won should establish an emergency government of technocrats that would last six months to a year.
Egypt’s Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa and the head of the Al Azhar religious authority Ahmed al-Tayeb both congratulated Morsi as well, according to state-run media. The two are key Muslim figures in the country who were appointed by Mubarak.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague tweeted that he hopes Morsi “will show early leadership on democratic and economic reforms” as well as on the “rights of all Egyptian men and women.”
Sunday’s announcement came after a very long speech by Farouq Sultan, head of the Higher Presidential Election Commission, in which he defended the electoral process and discussed reports of irregularities and how they were handled.
Each campaign had accused the other of election fraud.
Sultan’s lengthy remarks lasted 45 minutes after starting nearly 45 minutes later than expected, triggering impatience among many and thousands of jokes on Twitter.
Both candidates — who faced each other in a runoff last weekend — had already used social media to declare victory. Before the announcement on Sunday, both campaigns repeated that claim on Facebook.
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Officials, calling for calm Sunday before the announcement, warned that they were ready to carry out long-standing policy of using deadly force against people who attack government buildings.
Sunday’s celebration in Cairo showed the kind of public support for the Muslim Brotherhood that would have gotten demonstrators thrown in jail under Mubarak. Tahrir Square was the central site of mass protests last year that toppled Mubarak.
There was a similar celebration Sunday in Alexandria.
But in a country split between the two candidates, many were angered by the election result.
A group of Shafik supporters at a Cairo hotel were devastated by the result. One threw something at the screen as the announcement came.
Manal Koshkani, a Shafik supporter at the hotel, told CNN she and others “fear” the direction the Islamist party, the Muslim Brotherhood, could take Egypt.
“I hope we see a better future” Morsi, she said, adding, “I highly doubt it.”
Wael Ghonim, who helped organize the 2011 revolution, tweeted, “The first elected civilian Egyptian president in the history of modern Egypt. The revolution continues.”
The Muslim Brotherhood announced in advance Sunday that it would stage a long-term protest if Shafik was declared the winner.
Like Mubarak, Shafik is a former air force officer with close ties to Egypt’s powerful military and is “the quintessential candidate of the counter-revolution,” said Khaled Elgindy, a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington.
Morsi, an American-educated engineer, “represents the older, more conservative wing of the Brotherhood and openly endorses a strict Islamic vision,” said Isobel Coleman of the Council on Foreign Relations.
But in an interview with CNN, Morsi said, “There is no such thing called an Islamic democracy. There is democracy only. … The people are the source of authority.”
More than 1,800 ambulances were dispatched across the country before the results were announced as a proactive measure, the state-run EgyNews agency reported. It also said the country’s interior ministry stressed the need to respect peaceful demonstrations.
But the ministry also said it would not tolerate any turmoil against authorities after Sunday’s pivotal announcement.
“Minister Mohamed Ibrahim has given police forces orders to shoot to kill against anyone attempting to attack police stations after the results,” interior ministry spokesman Gen. Marwan Mustapha said, reiterating government policy in such circumstances. “Increased security has been dispersed in the side streets of (Cairo’s) Tahrir Square to protect government buildings.”
The Muslim Brotherhood vowed it would stage “a long-term, open-end sit-in at Tahrir Square,” complete with bathroom facilities made of bricks, daily food supply and tight security at the entrances of the square, if Shafik won, said Jihad Haddad, a political adviser to the Muslim Brotherhood. Haddad cited the Brotherhood’s disapproval of the ruling military body’s new constitutional decree and de facto martial law.
Egypt’s all-powerful military leaders have said they won’t reverse their widely deplored constitutional and judicial changes and also cautioned against election-related unrest.
“We will face anyone who will pose a challenge to the public and private sectors with an iron fist,” the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) said.
Egypt’s constitutional court dissolved the lower house of parliament this month, extending the military’s power and sparking accusations of a coup d’etat.
Both presidential candidates claim victory in Egypt
Under an interim constitutional declaration, the military council retains the power to make laws and budget decisions until a new constitution is written and a new parliament elected.
The declaration said Supreme Council members “shall decide all matters related to military affairs, including the appointment of its leaders.” The president has the power to declare war, it says, but only “after the approval” of the Supreme Council.
The military council said it does not favor one political entity over another and respects the rights of Egyptians to protest but stressed the importance of self-restraint and respect for authority.
The Supreme Council urged political entities to respect democracy and “abstain from all possible acts that may descend the country into a full chaos.”
Egyptian reform leader Mohamed ElBaradei — the former head of the United Nations nuclear watchdog agency and a Nobel Peace Prize laureate — warned that if Shafik was declared the winner, “we are in for a lot of instability and violence … a major uprising.”
He said there were fewer security concerns about a Morsi victory because Shafik supporters were unlikely to take their anger to the streets.
Before the results were announced, ElBaradei described the current situation as “a total, complete 100% mess.”
Mohamed Mahsoob, a law professor at Menofiya University and a member of the El Wasat Party, tweeted: “The revolution will succeed, even if the newly elected president is below expectations because we will have the right to change him. But the revolution will not succeed if we have a president from the old regime that we toppled because he will working on seizing it back (and) reversing the accomplishments.”