It wasn’t exactly a surprise anymore, since preliminary counts have been floating around for days, but Egypt’s junta formally kicked off the presidential runoff today by confirming that the two candidates will be Muslim Brotherhood official Dr. Mohamed Mursi and Air Marshal Ahmed Shafiq, who referred to dictator Hosni Mubarak as his “role model.”
Shafiq’s placing in the top two shocked many, and his status as an unapologetic Mubarak backer has aroused considerable anger, with protesters storming his campaign’s headquarters today, ransacking it and setting it on fire.
The runoff campaign is likely to see more violence as the two sides look to court the liberal revolutionaries, and those voters face an unappetizing choice between a religious conservative and a new Mubarak.
The experts see Mursi with a considerable advantage, because whatever negative connotations the Muslim Brotherhood may have among secular voters, he wasn’t a regime loyalist. Still, there seems to be palpable fear that Shafiq is the junta’s preferred choice, and that in some way or other he will eventually be installed.