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Egypt May Be Headed To Runoff Between Islamist And Former Mubarak Aide

As Egyptian officials count ballots from this week's first-ever free presidential election in that country, the Muslim Brotherhood is claiming its candidate got the most votes and will likely be in a runoff next month against ousted President Hosni Mubarak's last prime minister.

From Cairo, NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson cautions that officials are advising against "believing statements by groups claiming to know who won." Official results aren't due to be released until next Tuesday.

But The New York Times says that "several independent vote counts" signal that a runoff "appears almost certain to pit the two most polarizing figures against each other in a reversion to the decades-old power struggle between Egypt's secular-minded military elite and its longstanding Islamist opposition."

And the Times adds that "it was clear as early as Thursday night that a plurality of votes went to Mohamed Morsi, the American-educated engineer nominated by the Brotherhood." Then, earlier today, it began to look as if "second place would go to Ahmed Shafik, a former Air Force general who briefly served as Mr. Mubarak's last prime minister." (Note: NPR follows Associated Press style — Shafiq — on the spelling of the former prime minister's last name.)

According to The Associated Press, "exit polls by several Arab television stations also suggested the Brotherhood's Morsi was ahead of the pack of 13 candidates."

There will be a runoff, most likely over the two days of June 16-17, if no one candidate gets a majority the votes. Click here for a four-minute explanation of Egypt's elections.

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