Egypt recently carried out its first democratic presidential election in the country’s history. But five days after the vote, the question of who won remains a matter of contention. The contest pitted a former military man who had served in the regime of ousted president Hosni Mubarak against a leader of the regime’s longtime foes, the Muslim Brotherhood.
Most observers believe the most votes went to Mohamed Morsy, the candidate of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP). The party claims a 1.2 million vote lead over Ahmed Shafik, the former military man and Mubarak prime minister. Shafik, however, says he has 500,000 more votes than Morsy. And with the official results still pending, the tension is rising as Egyptians wait to find out which candidate—if any—is telling the truth.
The presence of Egypt’s decidedly undemocratic military in its fledgling democratic process has only added to the atmosphere of uncertainty. Shortly after the polls closed on Sunday night, the junta, which has ruled Egypt since Mubarak stepped down, issued a decree that served to dramatically limit the powers of the incoming president. Just a few days before, the country’s constitutional court had moved to dissolve Egypt’s first democratically elected parliament—which had been dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood. And analysts say this latest decree seems tailor made to limit the impact of a Brotherhood win at the polls.
The Islamists have reacted to the pressure with a show of popular force; taking to Cairo’s Tahrir Square every night since, as the country awaits the electoral outcome. So far, the demonstrations have been largely symbolic. But they could turn violent if Shafik is declared the winner—an outcome that the Islamists have already said would be the product of electoral fraud.
Abigail Hauslohner is TIME’s Cairo correspondent.
Yuri Kozyrev is a contract photographer for TIME and was named the 2011 Photographer of the Year in the Pictures of the Year International competition.