(CNSNews.com) – Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said “whatever the outcome” of the presidential election in Egypt, the United States “will continue to support” the Egyptian people as they went to the polls to choose between a Muslim Brotherhood candidate and a former member of the toppled regime. (Egypt’s polling stations were open Wednesday and Thursday for two days of voting.)
During a Thursday press conference to release the Country Reports on Human Rights Practices of 2011, Secretary Clinton spoke about the Arab Spring and human rights.
“Now, as you know, this has been an especially tumultuous and momentous year for everyone involved in the cause of human rights,” she said. “Many of the events that have dominated recent headlines from the revolutions in the Middle East to reforms in Burma, began with human rights, with the clear call of men and women demanding their universal rights.”
“Today in Egypt we are seeing in real time that those demands are making a difference, as Egyptians are going to the polls to determine for the first time in their history who their leaders will be,” she said.
“Whatever the outcome of the election, the Egyptian people will keep striving to achieve their aspirations and, as they do, we will continue to support them,” Clinton said. “We will support people everywhere who seek the same: men and women who want to speak, worship, associate, love the way they choose. We will defend their rights, not just on the day we issue these reports but every day.”
Thursday marks the second day of presidential elections in Egypt, the first since the ousting of President Hosni Mubarak last year. Abdel Moneim Aboul-Fotouh, an Islamist and former senior Muslim Brotherhood figure, and Amr Moussa, a radical nationalist, are the two frontrunners in a field of 13 presidential candidates. Moussa served as Mubarak’s foreign minister for a decade until 2001.
Earlier this month Aboul-Fotouh called Israel an “enemy” in a televised presidential debate, and has said a 1978 peace agreement with Israel is a threat to national security and should be revised.
Sixty-one percent of Egyptians want to abandon the Egypt-Israel peace treaty that has been in place for over 30 years, according to a recent poll conducted by the Pew Global Attitudes Project.
The Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party candidate, Mohammed Morsi, has also registered support among opinion polls. Morsi’s campaign released a document on his foreign policy agenda that vows a reworked relationship with the United States, based on “independence of decision” and an end to “subordination.”
Other elements of Morsi’s platform include: Support for the Palestinian state, working to boost the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), and coordinating “foreign policy and security and military cooperation” with Turkey.
If no candidate receives at least 50 percent of the vote, a run-off election will be held on June 16-17 between the two top vote earners.
Earlier this year, the Egyptian parliamentary elections resulted in large victories for Islamist parties, according to a report by the Congressional Research Service (CRS).
“Of the 498 elected seats, Islamists of varying sorts control nearly 70%, with the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP)-led Democratic Alliance controlling the most at 47% (235 total),” the Feb. 8 report stated. “The Islamist Alliance-list led by the Salafist Nour Party came second with 25% (125 seats).”
“Salafists,” the report said, “who take a conservative, literalist approach to interpreting the Koran, are expected to focus on infusing Islam into domestic and foreign policies.”