Mohamed Morsi, Egypt's Islamist president received on Sunday welcoming congratulatory messages from leaders and nations across the globe after being declared the winner of the freest elections in the Arab country's history.
After narrowly defeating Hosni Mubarak's last Prime Minister Ahmed Shafif in a race that raised political tensions in Egypt to a fever pitch, one by one, nations worldwide wished the president-elect their congratulations, each one emphasizing a different issue.
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"The revolutionary movement of the Egyptian people... is in its final stages of the Islamic awakening and a new era of change in the Middle East," said Iran's Foreign Ministry in a statement.
Shortly after, the White House spokesman Jay Carney commended the Egyptian people "for this milestone in their transition to democracy."
"We look forward to working together with President-elect Morsi and the government he forms, on the basis of mutual respect, to advance the many shared interests between Egypt and the United States," Carney added.
Morsi, the 60-year old US-trained engineer, narrowly defeated Shafik with 51.7% of the vote versus 48.3, by a margin of only 800,000 votes, the election commission said. Turnout was 51%.
Celebration in iconic Tahrir square (Photo: AFP)
Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, head of Egypt's ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, also congratulated Morsi on his victory. Following the anouncement, thousands of Egyptians packed into Cairo's iconic Tahrir Square to celebrate Morsi’s victory, waving flags and posters of the Islamist leader.
"God is greatest" and "down with military rule" they chanted as some set off fire crackers minutes after the election commission formally declared the result.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague, who was one of Morsi's many congratulators, called the Islamic leader's victory a "historic" one."I congratulate the Egyptian people for their commitment to the democratic process and electing a new president," Hague said in a statement issued by the Foreign Office.
Gazans celebrate Islamic victory in Egypt (Photo: AFP)
Left on the sidelines of the political drama are the liberal and secular youth groups that drove the uprising against Mubarak, wondering whether Egypt has taken a step towards becoming an Islamist state.
Some grudgingly supported Morsi over Shafik, who was Mubarak's last prime minister, while others boycotted the vote.
Morsi will now have to reassure them that he represents the whole country, not just Islamists, and will face enormous challenges after security and the economy badly deteriorated in the transition period.
Khaled Abdel-Hamid, a leading leftist politician, said Morsi must fight to get his powers back or he will lose any popular support he may have garnered.
"If he fights to get his power back, we will support him. But if he doesn't fight back, then he is settling for siding with the military," he said.
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