Egypt Islamists Claim Lead in Vote for President, Contrary to Polls

Egyptian pundits had assumed that public support for the Brotherhood had waned after they announced their attempt to put forward a presidential nominee.

With final results due to be published only next week, Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood claimed on Friday that its candidate Mohamed Mursi has garnered the most votes in Wednesday's presidential elections.

And while it wasn't yet clear whether or not that announcement is correct or not, they could potentially serve as a significant surprise considering the fact that all of the preliminary polls indicated that Mursi's chances of winning were slim, far behind former Foreign Minister Amr Moussa, moderate Islamist candidate Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh and even former Prime Minister Ahmed Shafik.

An al-Jazeera report indicated that preliminary results show Mursi indeed leads the race, after counting 50 percent of the votes, with the three other candidates vying for second place ahead of a runoff.

The various Egyptian pundits assumed that public support of the Brotherhood waned after they announced their attempt to put forward a presidential nominee, this after they promised that they would not do so in the months leading to the elections.

Another element that should have hurt the Muslim Brotherhood's chances was the central election committee's decision to rule out their leading candidate Khairat al-Shater, leaving Mursi as a kind of deafualt choice.

It seems, however, that the Brotherhood's political mechanism managed to turn that around.

Essam al-Arian, deputy chief of the Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party, told reporters in the Cairo elections' headquarters that according to information received by the movement from 250 counted polling stations, Mursi was in the lead.

Earlier, al-Arian said that the movement's network of activists aided in "making up for lost time," referring to late start of their presidential campaign.

The Muslim Brotherhood official also referred to criticism leveled from within the movement at the decision to present a nominee, saying: "It was very difficult."

"People who were against [positing a nominee] said that we were taking too much responsibility on ourselves. But it was a matter of saving the country's future. If you can't take responsibility, who is it then left with?" he added.

However, despite all that, Al-Arabiya's website reports a tight race between Mursi, Shafik and Nazarist candidate Hamdeen Sabahi.