CAIRO - The two top vote-winners in this past week's Egyptian presidential election, due to face each other in a run-off on June 16 and 17 should preliminary results be confirmed, described their visions of building a new Egypt if elected.
Both candidates described their visions for a new Egypt, and both spoke of cooperating with their adversaries and rivals. But Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohamed Morsi dismissed his opponent, former Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq, as a symbol of the old regime, and urged he be excluded from the political process.
Morsi, who met with supporters of his defeated rivals Saturday, spoke of forming a united front to oppose what he called “elements of the old regime” of former President Hosni Mubarak.
Morsi condemned the old regime and promised to create a new one based on one that is inclusive of all forces in the country, including its youth and various other political currents and forces. He refused, however, any cooperation with the old regime, which he says ruined the country.
Morsi repeatedly stressed the word “democracy” throughout his press conference, trying to allay fears of secular opponents. “Our goal,” he insisted, “is stability, development, freedom, democracy, and a new country based on the constitution.
Opponents, however, accuse Morsi of supporting a theocracy, based on the Koran and Islamic shariah law. Despite Morsi's calls for “unity”, candidates Hamdeen Sebahi and Abdul Meneim Aboul Futtuoh both stayed away from the meeting with Muslim Brotherhood candidate.
Egyptian presidential candidate Ahmed Shafiq speaks to the media during a press conference at his office in Cairo, Egypt, Saturday, May 26, 2012.
Earlier, former Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq, an air force general and former air force commander, told a press conference that he was extending his hand to all political forces, especially the young people who were the backbone of last year's revolution which toppled former President Hosni Mubarak.
He said the youth of various political parties were responsible for last year's revolution, and he promised to reward them for their struggle against the old regime by giving them prominence in the new one.
Shafiq added that he does not seek to recreate the regime of former President Hosni Mubarak, as some opponents accuse him of trying to do.
He said that many commentators talk of the need to cut electoral deals and form political alliances to win the final round of the presidential election. But, he insisted that he extends his hand to all political forces and vows to serve the people and renounce authoritarian rule.
Meanwhile, runner-up Hamdeen Sebahi urged Egypt's electoral commission to hold a partial recount of this week's election, claiming that there were a number of violations. Sebahi came in third, 700,000 votes behind second-place finisher Ahmed Shafiq.
Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, whose Carter Center had 102 monitors observing polling stations for this week's presidential first round, stressed that the vote was generally acceptable and that minor irregularities would not affect the final outcome