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Egypt's Military Rulers Blame Candidates for Tensions

June 22, 2012

by VOA News

Egypt's ruling military council on Friday accused the country's two presidential candidates of raising tensions by prematurely declaring victory, as thousands of mostly Islamist protesters gathered in Cairo's Tahrir Square to demand the release of results from last week's runoff election and denounce what they see as a military power grab.

Friday's statement by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces called the early release of unofficial results from the presidential runoff "unjustifiable" and a chief cause of what it characterized as "division and confusion" prevailing in the political arena.

The council warned it would deal "firmly" with any attempt to "harm public and private interests."

Both Muslim Brotherhood candidate Muhammad Morsi and former prime minister Ahmed Shafiq have declared victory.

Muslim Brotherhood officials have warned of a confrontation between the people and the ruling military if Morsi is not named the winner. Supporters of both men have threatened a backlash should their candidate lose.

Egypt's election commission has postponed announcing the results from the runoff, which were due to be released Thursday, saying it needs time to investigate fraud allegations by both candidates.

Egypt's official MENA news agency is reporting that the election commission could announce the election results on Saturday or Sunday.

The delay in announcing election results is only part of the political standoff. In the past week, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces carried out a series of moves aimed at solidifying its power, including the court-ordered dissolution of the Islamist-dominated parliament.

The council also declared an interim constitution that gives its generals and the courts final say over much domestic and foreign policy, as well as the process to create a new permanent constitution.

The council has promised to hand over power to civilians by July 1, a claim many protesters fear will not happen

In Washington, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Egypt's military must "fulfill its promise" to turn over power to the winner of a presidential runoff vote. In a TV interview broadcast late Wednesday, Clinton called the military's actions "clearly troubling."

Some information for this report was provided by AP.

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