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Mohamed Morsi Wins Egypt's Elections; History in the Making; Reaction In and Outside of Egypt; Jubilation on Cairo's Streets

Aired June 24, 2012 - 20:00   ET


HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: It was the moment that changed Egypt. But just how much of a change is now in the hands of the military, as the Muslim Brotherhood candidate, Mohamed Morsi, is named president-elect.

Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. And thanks for joining us for our special coverage of "Egypt, A Historic Vote."

I'm Hala Gorani at the CNN Center.

As a member of the once banned Muslim Brotherhood, Mohamed Morsi was arrested during the regime of the ousted President Hosni Mubarak. He protested rigged elections. He fought repressive measures. And he even spent time in jail. Now he's becoming the country's head of state.

Here's how a historic and emotional day played out in Egypt.


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Egypt's highest election commission has announced Mohamed Morsi will be and is the next president of Egypt.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Christians and all the Muslims are just brothers and in Islam, all people are equal.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's a contrast between our journey out of Cairo when it was gridlocked and everyone was tensely waiting for the results. Now, suddenly, the streets have been freed up literally and the country has politically as well, according to those who think Mohamed Morsi represents Egypt's best hopes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is utter disbelief here at the Ahmed Shafik's party gathering. People crying, gasps of shock, as the news is slowly digested that he has been beaten.


GORANI: There you have it, Shafik's supporters stunned by Sunday's announcement. Backers of Mohamed Morsi were overjoyed at the news.

Hours after he was declared Egypt's president-elect, Mohamed Morsi appeared on state television. He assured Egyptians he wasn't just a Muslim leader and this is going to be his big challenge. Will he represent all Egyptians? This is what he said on state television just a few hours ago. Listen.


MOHAMED MORSI, EGYPTIAN PRESIDENT-ELECT (Through Translator): To all -- sectors of the people, to my people, my tribe, I say to them to this momentous day that today, with your election and with your -- after the bestowing of (INAUDIBLE), that I am the president for all -- today a president for all Egyptians wherever they are, inside or abroad.


GORANI: Mohamed Morsi, Egypt's new president. Will he unify the country? So many are still suspicious of the Muslim Brotherhood.

CNN's chief international correspondent and ABC News global affairs anchor Christiane Amanpour is in Cairo.

What is Morsi promising the Egyptian people and do they believe him, Christiane?

AMANPOUR: Well, Hala, of course that is the questions for the majority of Egyptians. We have so many people in Tahrir Square still celebrating. And this is going to go on for a long time. They've got fireworks, people have been streaming in from all over Cairo and in other parts of Egypt, they are celebrating as well.

Mohamed Morsi was urged by the Grand Mufti of Egypt to embrace all Egyptians, to work for national reconciliation. And his speech that you mentioned did say that he would be the president for everyone, for Christians, for minorities, for women, listed all elements of society, the army, the police, the intelligence services, teachers, farmers -- he went on and on, embracing all Egyptians.

But the truth of the matter is that half the country did not vote for him, 48 percent voted for Ahmed Shafik. They want stability, they don't necessarily want an Islamist leader. Important to note, though, that Ahmed Shafik did immediately send a message of congratulations to Mohamed Morsi as did many of the neighboring Arab states and indeed as is Israel, and of course the United States as well, urging him to work with all Egyptians and create a sort of reconciliation government.

I had the opportunity to interview him before the first round of presidential elections and to ask some of those questions. I asked about the fears of many here in Egypt and around the world that a Muslim Brotherhood candidate might in fact introduce an Islamic fundamentalist theocracy.


MORSI (Through Translator): The Egyptian people are freely making their choice now. And they are the ones who chose the parliament. We are talking about elections and democracy. If the Egyptian people have chosen their leaders, then there won't be any room for worry. We want to transform from a president of the institution to an institution of the presidency, to an executive branch that represents the people's true will and implements their public interest.

AMANPOUR: If you were president, do you see Egypt as more like Turkey, an Islamic democracy, or more like Iran, which is more fundamentalist and autocratic?

MORSI (Through Translator): There is no such thing called an Islamic democracy. There is democracy only, and democracy is the instrument that is present now. The people are the source of authority. The social mindset is, there are a people and the people chooses. That's democracy and that agrees with consultation called for in Islam.

With that, we are eager for freedom, we are eager for justice, social justice and a democratic constitutional state. We see Egypt as a democratic country, the Egyptian people are free and the people's will should be implemented.

AMANPOUR: What about the role of women? Can a woman under a Muslim Brotherhood presidency, once the constitution is written, do you agree with a woman running for president?

MORSI (Through Translator): I see it being called the presidency of the Muslim Brotherhood but it is the presidency of Egypt. The president of Egypt in the next period will be chosen and elected by Egyptians. So if they pick the head of the Freedom and Justice Party, he will represent all Egyptians. And in that case, the presidency in Egypt will be a constitutional presidency. He willful the law and the constitution that applies to all.

The role of women in Egyptian society is clear. Women's rights are equal to men. Women have complete rights just like men. There shouldn't be any kind of distinction between Egyptians except that that is based on the constitution and law.

AMANPOUR: Can you guarantee to the women of Egypt that if you were to be president, that the law that currently exists, that makes it a criminal offense to sexually abuse women, will not be overturned, will not be struck down?

MORSI (Through Translator): Rights will be based on the constitution, so all Egyptians, whether Muslims or Christians, men or women, everyone and all, will agree to it and will themselves call for it in the constitution. And that means there is no need for worry at all over any kind of abuse of power. It will be impossible to allow these kinds of abuse in the shadow of a constitutional state. A lawful state, a state that protects the dignity of a person.

There is no room for any abuse of any kind or Egyptians or even those who reside in the land of Egypt who aren't Egyptians.

AMANPOUR: So what I hear you saying is that you agree that the new constitution should keep that law, should make sure that constitutionally women are protected?

MORSI: Of course.

AMANPOUR: All right. Well, thank you for saying that in English. I hear you loud and clear and so will the women.

Let me ask you about a different issue.


AMANPOUR: Let -- do you think that a woman should run for president in Egypt?

MORSI: Yes, remember -- remember, remember, you are a woman.

AMANPOUR: Exactly.

MORSI: I respect you.

AMANPOUR: Thank you. And all the Egyptian women are hoping that they will be respected and their rights will be guaranteed.

MORSI: Thank you.

AMANPOUR: So I guess now that I have you here, I just want you to say it loud and clear.

MORSI: Yes. Loudly and clearly, all Egyptian womens have the same rights like the men. They are all my sisters, my daughters, my wife and my mother, they are all Egyptians. There is no differences whatsoever among the people in Egypt, the people of Egypt based on anything I believe or sex or whatever you call or you name.


AMANPOUR: So before the elections, those were his words and people here are going to keep him to it because as I say, they're very concerned that they do have all their rights protected. He kept talking about a constitution. A constitution has not yet been written.

Also, let's not forget, Hala, that right now he is the president of Egypt but he doesn't have much power because the military holds all the power. SCAF, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, has dissolved the parliament as we know, has legislative authority, has desires to have an input in writing the constitution. So all these questions are out there to be resolved in the future.

And Mohamed Morsi does come from the more conservative wing of the Muslim Brotherhood although he has resigned officially from the Muslim Brotherhood the moment he was named as the president-elect -- Hala.

GORANI: All right. And we are going to be analyzing all of this in great detail, what happens next, the lack of constitution, the dissolution of the parliament. We'll be chatting with you, of course, Christiane Amanpour, who's live in Cairo just a little bit later during this special hour.

While we were seeing these live images from Cairo, fireworks were still going off and families, we understand, are still coming in, bringing in their children to celebrate what they see as a historic day, a non-military, non-monarch head of the country. Mohamed Morsi elected president of Egypt.

Once again, live pictures from Cairo's Tahrir Square, the place to be to see Egyptian history in the making. Remember what it looked like back in February last year, as the crowd reacted to news that the then president Hosni Mubarak had stepped down. And here was the scene Sunday when Morsi supporters heard the announcement of his victory.

Ian League gives us a sense of what it was like to be in Tahrir Square at that very historic moment.


IAN LEE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: To say there's a celebration in Egypt would be an understatement. Just a little while ago, the Supreme Presidential Election Commission announced the Mohamed Morsi is Egypt's next president.

And as you can see, thousands and thousands of people are here in Tahrir Square celebrating. It was just over a year and a half ago when protesters came to this square to overthrow President Hosni Mubarak. But this is actually the first time Egypt has ever, ever had a democratically elected president. And just to show, the guy who handed me this poster of Mohamed Morsi, saying that he is the man that's going to be Egypt's next president and the savior of Egypt.

But I also want to point out there are other groups in this square other than the Muslim Brotherhood. We're seeing revolutionary groups here in this square who are so much for Morsi but against Ahmed Shafik. Today everyone is celebrating in Tahrir Square. It doesn't matter if you're for the Muslim Brotherhood or for the revolution, these (INAUDIBLE) groups are here to celebrate.

Ian Lee, CNN, Cairo.


GORANI: Another eyewitness to history, author and journalist Ashraf Khalil. He was also in Tahrir Square when the official results of Egypt's first democratic presidential election were announced. Khalil's book "Liberation Square: Inside the Egyptian Revolution and Rebirth of a Nation" will be published by St. Martin's Press in January and he joins us now live from Cairo.

Ashraf, is this the rebirth of your nation?

ASHRAF KHALIL, EGYPTIAN-AMERICAN JOURNALIST: It's about a quarter of the way there. It is not a rebirth. I mean I think a lot of people that -- and even a lot of people that are happy that Mohamed Morsi and not Ahmed Shafik is president will admit that this is a slightly bittersweet moment -- you know, to a large chunk of the Egyptian electorate the choice between Mohamed Morsi and Ahmed Shafik was a depressing choice, was a -- was a Mubarak era choice, and was a sign of -- that we haven't gone as far as maybe we would have liked to by now.

But I think a lot of people, the core constituencies of each person were about the same, I believe. And then there was -- as was mentioned earlier, this sort of like anybody but Shafik people were voting for Morsi and then the people voting the other direction, there are people who are voting against something they couldn't stand more than they were voting for something.

GORANI: Right. But let me ask you what your personal reflection was today, as you saw people pour into Tahrir Square once again at the announcement that Mohamed Morsi, a former Muslim Brotherhood member, imprisoned himself by the regime of Hosni Mubarak, is now president when Hosni Mubarak is in prison.

KHALIL: It was -- it was hard not to enjoy the irony of that no matter what you feel about the Muslim Brotherhood or Mohamed Morsi. I mean today in Tahrir it was really infectious. It was huge. The crowds in Tahrir as I left a couple of hours ago, were as large as they were on the night that Mubarak resigned. I was -- I was impressed with the outpouring and there were thousands more coming. This looks like a street party that's going to go on until dawn.

GORANI: And Ashraf Khalil, I've got to ask you, you know, many people around the world are watching this. They hear Muslim Brotherhood president, we'll get into, you know, his powers a little bit later with other guests but -- and some of them say we should be concerned. This is an Islamist now at the head of Egypt. Should they be?

KHALIL: I think there's reason for concern, absolutely. I don't -- I don't subscribe to the level of panic that I think a lot of other people have. I mean personally, having watched the Muslim Brotherhood operate on the political scene before and after the revolution, I'm not afraid of them imposing Sharia, I'm afraid of them being sort of deal cutters and kind of snakes.

They're politicians. They're pragmatists to the point of being cynical. And I worry about that. I'm far more worried about the Muslim Brotherhood cutting a deal with the military than I am about the Brotherhood trying to create the Islamic of Republic in Egypt.

GORANI: All right. Ashraf Khalil, a pleasure talking to you on this historic day for your country and thanks very much for joining us on CNN.

Ashraf Khalil, joining us live from Cairo on his hopes and his fears.

Well, this did turn out to be a close election between Mohamed Morsi and Ahmed Shafik. Take a look at the official numbers from the Egyptian Electoral Commission. The Muslim Brotherhood candidate came away with 51.73 percent of the vote in the two-men runoff. Ahmed Shafik, of course the former prime minister under Hosni Mubarak, a former aviation minister, a man of the old regime, he got 48.27 percent in the end.

Mohamed Morsi supporters broke out in tears when they heard their candidate was declared the winner. A member of the Muslim Brotherhood Freedom and Justice Party reacted to Morsi's win a little bit earlier. Listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Congratulations for each and every Egyptian on the face of the earth. It's just a moment in history. We've been waiting for it the last 7,000 years. In the civilization of 7,000 years, this is the first time in history we have our own president elected by us, the power of the people now is in the hands of the president. And the president has to go and move forward with what the people want. This is a great moment in the history of Egypt.


GORANI: That, of course, a supporter of Mohamed Morsi. But Shafik supporters, you can see these images here, shocked to learn of their candidate's narrow loss. One of them sounded a note of resignation after the official election results were released. Listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All that we wanted is to develop our country, our country to develop to become -- to occupy the position it deserves. So, again, with Mr. Morsi or Mr. Shafik, we're hoping for that. Hopefully he'll do develop Egypt, hopefully he'll be fair and be the president of all Egyptian, not only the Muslim Brotherhood group.


GORANI: And in the uncertainty preceding the Electoral Commission's announcement, both candidate, you'll remember, had claimed victory at one point in the country. Two men were saying they were the next president. Ahmed Shafik has, though, reportedly sent a message to Mohamed Morsi congratulating him on his victory. No public concession speech, if you will, but these reports that he has at least perhaps more privately congratulated his rival.

Well, people around the world are weighing in on the election results. It matters a lot to the region, to Israel, to the United States, to Europe, we'll show you what they are all saying next.

There's celebration today. But what does the future hold for Egypt? And what about the military? Are they grabbing on to power in the intention of holding on it to? We'll talk with Steven Cook, a senior fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at CFR. We'll be right back.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Happy from -- the Egyptian people could overcome the remnants of the lost regime, the regime of Hosni Mubarak. Thanks a lot. We overcome this. We -- the Egyptian people could overcome this regime and all people, all these people should be happy.



GORANI: Welcome back. An historic day for Egypt and indeed for the Arab world. A Muslim Brotherhood candidate, Mohamed Morsi, is elected president of Egypt. But the military still very much in control. It dissolved through a court ruling parliament. It also issued a constitution addendum text giving itself more power, stripping some of that power from the president.

Images coming to us from Tahrir Square as we've been hearing from some of our guests, Tahrir Square, just as full of ordinary Egyptians as today as it was on the night that Hosni Mubarak stepped down.

What about the United States? What does it say or think about Egypt's new Muslim Brotherhood president?

World affairs correspondent Jill Dougherty joins me from our Washington bureau with American reaction to all these events.

Hi, Jill.


Well, first, the White House issued a statement and significantly, it congratulated Mr. Morsi on his victory. That was important because there was concern -- I mean a few hours before, things were looking as if maybe either way, it was not going to turn out very well. There were problems that the U.S. could perceive in both scenarios.

But when Mr. Morsi was declared the leader, the U.S. really, I think, breathed a sigh of relief. And here is a statement that they initially issued from the press secretary to the president.

"The United States congratulates Dr. Mohamed Morsi on his victory in Egypt's presidential election and we congratulate the Egyptian people for this milestone in their transition to democracy. We look forward to working together with President-elect Morsi and the government he forms on the basis of mutual respect to advance the many shareholders interests between Egypt and the United States.

And then not too long after that, President Obama called both gentlemen, both the man who won, Mr. Morsi and also General Shafik. And interestingly, Hala, if you look at both of those statements and what they said, what he said to both of them, they're similar in a way. I mean congratulations, of course, to Morsi, but saying that the U.S. will continue to support Egypt's transition to democracy and stand by the Egyptian people.

And then to General Shafik, encouraging him to continue to play a role in Egyptian politics by supporting the democratic process and also working to unify the Egyptian people. So in both cases what they are doing in a way is going over the individuals to the principal, which is a continuation of moving along towards democracy and a big call-out to help the Egyptian people unite. That's one of the key issues right now.

GORANI: OK. Jill Dougherty, our world affairs correspondent, live in Washington. Thanks very much, Jill.

And we'll catch up with Jill a little bit later for more reaction coming from the United States.

As Jill reported, the U.S. has been keeping a keen eye, of course, on the -- on the election in Egypt. Steven Cook is a senior fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. He joins us also live from Washington.

So you heard the results when we all heard the results. Mohamed Morsi, Muslim Brotherhood, president of Egypt. What did you think when you heard it? What does the future hold for this country?

STEVEN COOK, SENIOR, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: Well, this is yet another extraordinary moment in the last 17 months of extraordinary moments. It is certainly a tremendous change. It's something that is unexpected but despite the celebrations that we're seeing in Tahrir Square right now, there is much to be done before we can say that Egypt is firmly on the path to democracy.

First, the Muslim Brotherhood itself does not have very good democratic credentials. And then secondly, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces continues to hold most of the power here on --

GORANI: So should we -- Steven, should we trust either the Muslim Brotherhood or the military leaders right now who are still very much in charge, by the way? Should we trust them?

COOK: No, I don't think that we should. I think that they've all said many different things about supporting the goals of the revolution. They've also said things that had raised concern about the goals of the revolution. I think the important thing right now is to measure both the Brotherhood and the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces by what they do now.


COOK Right now, though, it does not seem that the military is actually willing to hand over power, although they may be willing to hand over day-to-day administration of Egypt. And the Brotherhood has much to prove beyond its core constituency in terms of the role of women in society, a more inclusive government, outreach to all Egyptians as they say that they want, they now need to go ahead and do that.

GORANI: But what about the Muslim Brotherhood, for instance, could surprise us in a positive way? I mean they know they need tourists to come back and they need this economy to bounce back. Unemployment is a disaster in Egypt right now. Foreign direct investment has dwindled to almost nothing when it comes to the services oriented sector. So the Muslim Brotherhood knows that it needs to reassure the world.

COOK Indeed it does. You know, he's already been going through some arguments about why it will go back to the United States and seek additional aid and seek aid from the international monetary fund. It has done so by suggesting that the United States and international community must do this as a form of apology for the support for Mubarak over the course of 30 years.

Indeed the Brotherhood does need to reach out. There is always the possibility that it will be a force for change in Egypt, positive change in Egypt. But I think it's an empirical question at this point.

GORANI: Yes. An empirical question. We're going to have to wait and see. It's the old cliche. But we, I suppose, will only know once things actually end up happening. In a country like Egypt with so many surprises over the last several weeks.

And Steven Cook, it's always a pleasure talking to you.

COOK: Great. Pleasure to be with you, Hala.

GORANI: Of the Council on Foreign Relations. Thanks so much, Steven Cook.

So we've been talking a lot about this Muslim Brotherhood winner of the Egyptian presidential election, Mohamed Morsi, who is he, what does he stand for? Our Christiane Amanpour talked to President-elect Morsi before today's announcement.

Coming up, hear what he says about international relations, about relations with Israel. And we will talk more with Christiane about Mohamed Morsi and what the world and indeed his country, men and women, can expect from him. Stay with us.


GORANI: Who is the new president of Egypt? Let's take a closer look at Mohamed Morsi.

He resigned from the Muslim Brotherhood party after he won. The party was banned for a long time. It's almost 80 years old and Morsi himself was once jailed for seven months under the Mubarak regime. He wasn't the party's first pick for president but he stepped in once the original Muslim Brotherhood candidate, Khairat El-Shater, was disqualified.

Morsi is known as a conservative among conservatives. His campaign ran on the slogan Islam is the solution. Though he insists he will not try to turn Egypt into a fundamentalist Islamic state.

Let's return to Cairo. We're joined once more by CNN chief international correspondent and ABC News global affairs anchor Christiane Amanpour. First, let me ask you about what's going on behind you because I keep reading that Tahrir Square is as full tonight as it was in February 11th of last year? And I can still see fireworks.

AMANPOUR: Well, you're absolutely right, Hala. And it looks very, very much like a street party down there in Tahrir Square. There's no element of tension, there's no element of any kind of menace. And you know people were worried before the official election result was announced that there might be some kind of violence depending on which way it went. And the military staff, that odd Orwellian acronym that denotes the ruling military council, they had issued orders for shoot to kill if there was going to be any aggression against any government buildings or against the police.

They had deployed many, many extra police and security forces throughout the country. But it's turned out to be, up until now and probably throughout the next several days and weeks, a very peaceful relief and release. And even though we've been mentioning throughout this program the challenges that Morsi will face, the fact that he doesn't have full presidential powers, people do see this as a transformational moment.

As one of our guests said earlier on, for 7,000 years of Egyptian history people have not been able to freely choose the person that they wished to represent them as a national leader. And somebody said to me down there earlier this evening, this is the happiest moment of my life. For the first time I've been able to cast a vote and it matters. We've been able to elect our leader. And this is something of enormous pride for the people of Egypt -- Hala.

GORANI: And we can see that's what they're celebrating. Let's talk a little bit more about Mohamed Morsi and his for foreign policy plans for the country. You spoke to him just a few weeks ago about, for instance, what Egypt's relationship with Israel, how that would evolve. What did he tell you about that in particular?

AMANPOUR: Well, I talked to him about many things. Many people believed that actually Morsi would or could possibly win because the Muslim Brotherhood is the most organized of all the political movement in Egypt. And of course you know, for 60 years, this Muslim Brotherhood has been pursued by the state and now a member is head of state.

What does that mean for relations with other countries, which had good relations with the former regime? For instance the United States. I asked him about that. He said of course we want good relations with the United States but we want relations based on mutual interest, mutual respect and dignity. And you hear this a lot in this part of the world.

It basically means that they cannot expect the U.S. and others to have the kind of relations that are a one-way street as they pretty much did over the years of autocratic but friendly rulers. Now the street will have a say in many, many areas, including foreign policy, or at least that's what these leaders hope. So I asked him about Israel. Because indeed Israel has had a peace treaty with Egypt for more than 30 years now. And very interestingly, I had spoken to the Israeli president, Shimon Peres, last week when he came to the United States, to receive the Medal of Freedom, and he said, you know, while many people may be criticizing President Mubarak, I believe, he said, that he deserves respect because he has kept to the Camp David Accords and he has prevented a war between Israel and any other Arab country for the last more than 30 years.

So, of course, I put that to Mr. Morsi. Would he respect the Camp David Accords, would he respect all aspects of the peace treaty and would he especially not put that -- that treaty to a referendum?


MORSI (Through Translator): Egypt is a great country, proud and ancient. And is a member of the United Nations. Egypt, the institution, the state, in its new regime, respects all the treaties and agreements that have been implemented between it and between the states of the world.

With that, we confirm that we respect all the treaties that we have signed on to before as Egyptians. At the same time, we say that what Israelis have done in terms of violations in the past must be taken into account by the new Egypt and Egypt with a message of peace.

We have come to the world with a message of peace but we cannot permit any form of aggression upon us whether in words or in deeds. It's now time for the Israelis to know that the peace accord must be respected by both sides and no parties to it should violate it.

AMANPOUR: As leader of the Freedom and Justice Party, you have in the past, before you became the leader of this party, called Israeli leaders vampires and killers and you basically said that even if you're president you won't meet with the leaders.

How is that going to work if you're president and you have a peace treaty with Israel?

MORSI (Through Translator): We want balanced international relations with all states of the world. We continue to protect the accords we have made with all. At the same time we are able as Egyptians with an elected president to protect our border and to defend ourselves, and we won't allow anyone to threaten that border. Whoever wants to live in peace and follow those treaties must show his sincerity.

AMANPOUR: I just want to ask you one last question on the -- on the treaty with Israel, because you know with all the translation, I just want to make sure that I've got it correctly. Let me just get it straight. Are you saying that if you are president, the treaty will stand, it will not go to a referendum and you will respect that treaty?

MORSI: Yes, of course, I will. AMANPOUR: Got it, loud and clear.

MORSI: Give me another point.


MORSI: Provided -- I will respect it provided the other side keep it up and respect it.


AMANPOUR: So of course Israel today has congratulated the democratic process here in Egypt and looks forward, says the official statement, to continuing to work in partnership in areas of mutual interest with Egypt -- Hala.

GORANI: OK. Christiane Amanpour, thanks very much, Christiane. Live there on this momentous historic day.

In Egypt the country has elected a new president, a Muslim Brotherhood or, I should say, a former Muslim Brotherhood member of the Freedom and Justice Party, the political wing of the Brotherhood. He's resigned from that post. He is promising to be the president of all Egyptians.

Now with Christiane, we were discussing foreign relations between Egypt and Israel in particular. How is Israel reacting to all of this? The Israeli prime minister has issued a statement in reaction to this historic event today.

For details we turn to Elise Labott who joins us now from Jerusalem.

Elise, what are we hearing from the Israelis today?

ELISE LABOTT, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Hala, as we just heard, a very measured statement saying that they -- the Israelis appreciate the democratic process, accept the results and look forward to moving forward based on that peace treaty. No congratulations for the Egyptian people as we've heard from other leaders around the world, no congratulations for Mohamed Morsi.

Israeli officials say, you know, this came -- it wasn't unexpected. And listen, no -- the question is not whether Muslim Brotherhood likes Israel. Israel knows exactly how the Muslim Brotherhood feels about them. The question is how are they going to deal with Israel going forward? Now that they're in power, will they be vindictive towards the West, towards Israel, or would they try to be more pragmatic?

I mean Israel doesn't really know who Mohamed Morsi said he's not going to deal with Israeli officials. Who is he going to appoint to have contact with this government? Is he going to delegate contacts from the military or is he going to have a foreign minister, not from his party, not from his supporters that will possibly deal with Israel? It's going -- relations are not very good right now and they're likely to be kind of a little bit frozen for the time being. They say that they -- Israel officials tell me they expect President-elect Morsi to have to deal with real immediate domestic pressing issues, the economy, uniting the nation and they'll have to see how the relationship shakes out -- Hala.

GORANI: Well, has there been any contact between -- on any level Israelis and members of the Freedom and Justice Party or do we not know that?

LABOTT: Not at all, Hala. Israel officials tell me that they've tried to put out feelers, tried to reach out to the Freedom and Justice Party. But there is -- as one Israeli official told me today there is not one member of the Muslim Brotherhood who wants to have any contact with Israel. And that's really the rub right now. How are they going to deal with this government? Obviously, there are pressing issues, the Egyptian military and the Israeli military do have good ties.

There's a lot of concern right now about what's going on the -- in the Sinai, on the border between Israel and Egypt. It's really been lawless since the revolution, since the fall of Hosni Mubarak. And not only do you have Hamas trying to exploit this lawlessness, this vacuum, but now you have other Palestinian groups, even Egypt and Israeli officials, as well, say there's a growing al Qaeda presence on the border that they're very concerned about.


LABOTT: There have been some cross border attacks, one Israeli official was killed this week. So they say, now President Morsi, now that an Egyptian president has been elected, he needs to use all of his authority to deal with this situation because they see this as the most pressing issue between the two countries -- Hala.

GORANI: All right. We'll see how it develops. They are neighboring countries, eventually some communication is going to have to take place.

Elise Labott, thanks very much.

Elise is in Jerusalem.

So we've been saying it for the last 40 plus minutes, this is a truly historic moment for Egypt because it is the first democratically elected president in the country's history. But what about these challenges lying ahead as we leave you with live pictures of Tahrir Square? There's no parliament, there's no constitution. The military is holding on to much of the power and the Muslim Brotherhood candidate, many people still very much suspicious of their motives.

We will be right back. We will be speaking with Hisham Melham of Al-Arabiya Television next. Stay with us.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I tried to find any words to express that happiness. Full of love, full of our soul. We all love Mohammed.


GORANI: You know, you look at these images and for anyone who knows the Middle East, can you imagine this happening two or three years ago? I'm certain very few people ever envisioned this.

Let's get more perspective on the results in Egypt today. Hisham Melham is the Washington bureau chief of Al-Arabiya Television and joins me now from the U.S. capital.

So, speaking with Steven Cook of CFR a little bit earlier and I asked him, should we trust the military? Should we trust the Muslim Brotherhood? In a way, we don't have a choice, do we?

HISHAM MELHAM, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, AL-ARABIYA TELEVISION: Well, you know, President Reagan used to say, trust but verify. You know when Muslims was talking today, I kept thinking of "Hamlet," words words words. And he gave promises to everybody, he said that he loves everybody including the military and the police who tormented him in the past including the judiciary system which annulled his parliament.

We have to see how they will govern.


MELHAM: And the problem is that he is the president of a truncated presidency. It's been hallowed by the military officers. He has no constitution, he has no parliament. And he has to face the rising expectations of a young Egyptian generation that expects to reap immediately the economic and political benefits of a revolution.

GORANI: So is the military, Hisham, basically hoping that it will have a presidential frontman, figure head, without many powers and still pull all the strings?

MELHAM: Absolutely. The Egyptian military would like to do what the Turkish military managed to do a few generations ago when they managed to create a situation whereby the civilian government that takes care of day-to-day affairs and the military with the privileged position in society, as the guardian of the Turkish state. That's what the Egyptian military wants.

As you well know, Hala, the Egyptian military has it own economic interests there, economic perks. Their own factories, their own businesses. And they don't want to pay taxes and they want these privilege economic as well as political maintained.

My fear is that they will not end up like the Turkish military, they might drive Egypt and do to Egypt what the Pakistani military did to Pakistan. That's the main fear of those who are criticizing or critics of the military. And so --

GORANI: And tell me what that fear is. Because you talk -- we talk a lot about the Turkish model for the Middle East. What is -- what are the perils of the Pakistani model for Egypt?

Well, you would have a great deal of corruption. There will be no supervision. There will be -- there will be tremendous graph, no real checks and balances. You would have a formal democratic functions but not necessarily a real democracy.

I always remind people that elections are not synonymous with democracy. Democracy is much more than that. So far, we don't have democracy in Egypt. And -- that should be clear. You don't have independent judiciary in the real sense. You don't have checks and balances in the real sense.

I mean but the military --

GORANI: So these in the people in the Tahrir Square today, are they wrong to celebrate?

MELHAM: No. I always insisted -- I didn't want to be intoxicated with the triumph of the moment back in February of last year and that's why I'm still skeptic about what's likely to take place in Egypt. We are going --

GORANI: Because these people, Hisham, I'm sorry to jump in. These people, will they let the military or the Brotherhood or anyone else at this stage in this revolution get away with grabbing power and keeping their privileges and continuing to be corrupt?

MELHAM: No, we've seen the aspirations of people everywhere being circumvented and undermined and aborted by the persistence of the old order, by the military, by other forces in society. And keep in mind, Ahmed Shafik could have won this thing, too. And many people voted negatively either because they didn't want Ahmed Shafik as a representative of the past or they voted for Shafik because they don't want -- they don't want the Islamist.

I mean the will of the people may not necessarily be reigning supreme in the next few months and years. I hope I'm wrong. But all I'm arguing is that there are forces within the Egyptian society, within the military, the history of the Muslim Brotherhood, the weaknesses of the liberal progressive forces, their inability to articulate a vision for Egypt, a secular progressive really democratic vision for Egypt.

So we've seen a great deal of . We've seen violence which was something that none of us anticipated in February of last year when Mubarak was overthrown.

GORANI: And Hisham, we have to -- we have to leave it there. You bring up so many good points, we could go on for much longer. The secular parties organizing themselves politically, the fears that the military will hold on to power and Islamist president for the presidency, all of these, and the minorities of course also afraid for their own rights.

Thank you, Hisham Melham, in Washington, as always. We're going to be speaking with Hisham over the next few weeks and months, I'm sure, as so much history is made in the Arab world.

As anyone who's ever been to Cairo knows, traffic is crazy there, believe me.


GORANI: The jubilation wasn't confined to Tahrir Square. People were also celebrating in traffic, and traffic, as you all know, is a thing in Cairo.

Here is Dan Rivers.


DAN RIVERS, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: In the (INAUDIBLE) truck, between journey out of Cairo and it was gridlocked and everyone was tensely waiting for the results. Now, suddenly, the streets have been freed up literally and the country has politically as well, according to those who think Mohamed Morsi represents Egypt's best hope.

Of course, there are concern about Israel's credentials and there are concerns about what happens next. But right now, look at their faces. Do they look concerned? They look delighted. They can't believe this result which so many had predicted would go the other way. There were -- there were predictions of violence after work, suggestion that (INAUDIBLE) be fixed by the army or by the electoral commission but not a bit of it.


GORANI: That's going to do it for our special coverage of "EGYPT, THE HISTORIC VOTE." I'm Hala Gorani. Thanks for joining us.