CAIRO: Egypt looks set for a run-off presidential vote between the Muslim Brotherhood's Mohammed Mursi and Mubarak-era minister Ahmed Shafiq, pitting the Islamists who helped oust a dictator against his last premier.
A run-off between Shafiq and Mursi will further polarise a nation that rose up against president Hosni Mubarak's authoritarianism 15 months ago but has since suffered a spike in violence and a declining economy.
Candidate campaigns and Egyptian media reported Mursi leading, with Shafiq in second place and pan-Arab socialist Hamdeen Sabbahi in third.
The independent Al Masry Al Youm newspaper reported on its website that Mursi polled 24.9 per cent of the votes, followed by Shafiq with 24.5pc and Sabbahi with 21.1pc, basing on figures announced by judges in counting stations.
Representatives of the 12 candidates contesting the election watched the overnight vote count across the country and were present when the individual results were announced at each polling station.
Judges overseeing the count then handed the official results of each station to the candidates' representatives. The Islamist group compiled the results from around the country and then announced them.
The top two vote-getters will face each other in a run-off on June 16-17.
Between now and then, there is likely to be intense horse-trading between the two frontrunners to win over supporters of the losing candidates.