CAIRO - A Muslim Brotherhood official said on Friday the group's candidate in the first free presidential election in Egypt would enter a run-off vote next month with the last prime minister to serve Hosni Mubarak before he was ousted in a popular uprising.
The vote marks the final step in a messy and often bloody transition to democracy, overseen by a military council that has pledged to hand over power to a new president by July 1.
"It is clear that the run-off will be between (the Brotherhood's) Mohamed Mursi and Ahmed Shafiq," the official told Reuters. The group's governing body was meeting to determine campaign strategy for the run-off, scheduled for June 16 and 17, he said.
Official results are not due to be announced until next week, but representatives of the candidates are allowed to watch the count enabling them to compile their own tally.
The Brotherhood official said that with votes counted from about 12,800 of the roughly 13,100 polling stations, Mursi had 25 percent, Shafiq 23%, a rival Islamist Abdel Moneim Abol Fotouh 20% and leftist Hamdeen Sabahy 19%.
Egyptians, choosing their leader freely for the first time in history, voted on Wednesday and Thursday this week in an election that is a fruit of last year's popular revolt against Mubarak.
After six decades under authoritarian, military-backed rule, the poll results of Egypt's 50 million voters will decide whether to entrust the most populous Arab nation to an Islamist president for the next four years, as well as the Islamist-led assembly they chose earlier.
But secular candidates like ex-Arab League chief Amr Moussa and Mubarak's last premier Ahmed Shafiq had been considered to have a chance.
Some voters have voiced disappointment with the performance of parliament, where the Muslim Brotherhood's party has the biggest bloc. The assembly has been unable to assert itself over the government appointed by the generals who took over from Mubarak.
Alarmed by rising crime, disorder and a failing economy, some Egyptians have favored a man with government or military experience, even if he harks back to the Mubarak era.