Cairo - Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood declared on Tuesday it did not want a confrontation with the ruling generals but said the army did not have the right to curb presidential powers after a vote the group says its candidate won.
The campaign of Ahmed Shafik, the ex-military man who was in the run-off against the Brotherhood's Mohamed Mursi, has also claimed victory in the race. Official results from the weekend vote are not expected to be announced until Thursday.
The ruling army council, which took control when former President Hosni Mubarak was driven from office last year, issued an 11th-hour decree assuming legislative powers until a new parliament is elected, and keeping control of army affairs.
The decree came out on Sunday as counting for the presidential vote was under way. Days earlier the army had implemented a court ruling to dissolve the Islamist-led parliament, stripping the Brotherhood of its biggest gain since Mubarak was ousted.
Thousands of Egyptians gathered in Cairo's Tahrir Square and outside the parliament building on Tuesday to protest against the army's decree. Protesters also gathered in Egypt's second city of Alexandria.
It came after the Brotherhood, backed by other factions including ultra-orthodox Salafi groups, called for a mass rally.
“We do not seek any confrontation with anyone and no one in Egypt wants confrontation,” said Yasser Ali, spokesman for Mursi's campaign.
“There has to be dialogue between national forces, and the people alone must decide their fate,” he told a news conference, but added: “Nobody in Egypt is above the state and the constitution ... Everyone must abide by the popular will.”
The Morsy campaign restated claims that the Brotherhood candidate had secured 52 percent of the vote in the run-off held on Saturday and Sunday, compared to 48 percent for Shafik, who was Mubarak's last prime minister.
“We are speaking of facts and documents and not indicators or speculation. That is what is different from what the other party says to you,” Ali said, issuing numbers that the group compiled from their records of the count. The figures were slightly different from the numbers they announced on Monday.
“There is no shred of doubt that these numbers will be the numbers that the election committee will announce,” he said. “There may be slight changes after appeals from both parties but we are confident in what we say.”
Shafik's campaign also held a news conference to restate its claim to have won, saying he had 51.5 percent of the vote.
“We will go to the maximum legal point possible to confirm the fact that Shafik leads the results and confirm he is the next president of Egypt,” spokesman Karim Salem said.
Each candidate is allowed representatives at polling stations, which means they can collect a national tally even though the election committee has not announced results.
Mursi's campaign has filed more than 100 appeals contesting the results in smaller constituencies. Shafik's campaign said it was also lodging appeals. An election committee official said appeals could be filed until Tuesday evening, the official news agency reported. - Reuters