Tension in Cairo ahead of election results

Following Egypt's landmark presidential elections over the weekend of 16 June both candidates are claiming victory while the Supreme Presidential Electoral Commission (SPEC) has delayed its announcement of the official result until 24 June.

The Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate Mohammed Mursi was the first to declare victory in the days immediately after the election but his opponent – retired Egyptian aviation chief and former prime minister Ahmed Shafiq – subsequently claimed that he was in the lead.

The standoff between both camps, coupled with the delaying tactics of SPEC, has led to considerable tension in Egypt with large-scale protests taking place in Cairo's Tahrir Square, the epicentre of the revolution that toppled former president Hosni Mubarak 16 months ago.

The election commission has postponed releasing the results while it investigates claims of electoral forgery by both sides. The head of SPEC Farouk Sultan has strong links to the Mubarak regime and as such is distrusted by the Muslim Brotherhood which, together with some independent judges, estimates that Morsi has defeated Shafiq by 900,000 votes in an election where turnout was low.

There are also concerns over what is seen by many as a last-minute power grab by the nation’s ruling military council which recently dissolved the Islamist-dominated parliament and assumed legislative authority itself. It also limited the powers of the future president and expanded martial law.

Meanwhile the catalyst of the situation, Mubarak, who received a life sentence on 2 June for his failure to halt the killing of protesters during last year's uprising, is reportedly on life support in a military hospital in Cairo.