According to Egyptian media reports, with most of the ballots counted, Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohamed Morsi has garnered a plurality of the votes in the first round of Egypt's presidential elections.
He is expected to face off next month against Ahmed Shafiq, a former air force commander who briefly served as Egypt's prime minister after the fall of the country's former dictator Hosni Mubarak, in the second and final round of voting.
Many Egyptians were surprised by the results. Opinion polls in the run-up to the vote gave Morsi little chance of winning, particularly since the Brotherhood's initial candidate, Khairat al-Shater, was disqualified by the country's election commission.
On Friday morning, the Muslim Brotherhood claimed that Morsi was leading in the race. Later, it was reported that, after votes from 12,800 out of 13,100 voting stations were counted, Morsi had won 25% of the votes, Shafiq 23%, the moderate Islamist Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh 20% and the Nasserist candidate Hamdeen Sabahi 19%.
The man who was considered the leading candidate ahead of the elections, former Foreign Minister Amr Moussa, came in fifth place.
Official results will be published early next week. The second round of voting, in which the two leading candidates will face off against each other, will be held on June 16 and 17.
In light of the results, a number of parties are expected to throw their support behind Morsi, out of a fear that a victory by Shafiq, who is associated with the Mubarak regime, would effectively mean the end of the country's revolution.
Moderate Islamist candidate Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh said on Friday that he would now back the Muslim Brotherhood in its bid to defeat HosniMubarak's last prime minister.
His statement did not mention by name the Brotherhood, which expelled him for choosing to run, but Aboul Fotouh said heand his supporters would "rise above our political and partydifferences" and would "stand in a united front against thesymbols of corruption and oppression."
A victory by the Brotherhood's Morsi would mean an Egypt governed by an Islamist president and parliament.
A clash is also expected between the Muslim Brotherhood and the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, the military council that has ruled the country de facto since Mubarak's removal in early 2011, over how much power will be granted to the office of the presidency, and how much will be retained by SCAF.
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