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In what is perceived to be a milestone in the country's political transition, Egypt announced on Sunday that Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood had won the election to become the country's fifth president - the first without a military background.
It is good to see that the elections in Egypt, an important player in the Middle East, have finally yielded results after the uprisings last year that brought an end to the rule of Hosni Mubarak. However, the advent of a new president does not necessarily mean the country will embark on the road of stability and social reconciliation, many uncertainties and challenges loom ahead for Morsi and his country.
Morsi's defeat of Ahmed Shafiq, the former Egyptian prime minister, was by a slender margin, a clear indication that there is a big political divide in the country. There is a lack of mutual trust on key political issues between Islamists and secularists, political powers and the ruling military council, civilians and political parties.
Many in the West fear the Muslim Brotherhood will transform the country into a radical Islamic state.
To add to all these troubles, there is also speculation that the new president-elect may be rendered a "toothless tiger" given the military's strong grip on power.
Under the current circumstances, it is urgent that all sides strive for a speedy reconciliation in order to pave the way for the drafting of a new constitution.
Given that people in the country have been frustrated by the frequent protests, worsening security, an economic slowdown, the rise in commodity prices and high unemployment since the fall of Mubarak, the priorities for the new leadership are restoring security and dispelling the public's feeling that they have not realized their basic goal of overthrowing the old regime.
On the international front, how to recalibrate Egypt's relationship with the Arab world and Israel will also test the new leadership's political wisdom. The world will be anxiously watching each move Egypt makes, as they will have a far-reaching influence on the region's peace and stability.
Having chosen to offer the Muslim Brotherhood its first opportunity to govern in its 84-year history, people will be closely watching to see what it can do for the country.
(China Daily 06/26/2012 page8)