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McClatchy Newspapers

CAIRO - Egypt's election commission announced Thursday it would delay the official results in the nation's first contested presidential election, fueling rampant speculation that the ruling military council may be trying to rig the results.

The Presidential Election Commission, led by a judicial holdover from the regime of ousted President Hosni Mubarak, announced the delay a day after saying results would be released Thursday. It said the delay was necessary so the commission could review more than 400 complaints by the candidates, Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohammed Morsi and Ahmed Shafiq, Mubarak's last prime minister.

Among the accusations is that the Morsi campaign stuffed boxes with 1 million forged ballots in polling stations nationwide. According to Morsi's campaign, he leads Shafiq by 887,014 votes out of nearly 25.6 million cast.

But Egyptians - who since last weekend's election have endured wild rumors about Mubarak's health, military-ordered changes in their temporary constitution and competing claims over who won the election - were doubtful that any public official was being honest. Some drew money from their bank accounts and stocked up on food amid rumors of tanks on the roads leading to Cairo.

Many feared violence as the ruling military council, the Muslim Brotherhood, the Parliament, Shafiq and the assembly writing a permanent constitution jockeyed for power.

Some wondered whether the military council was leveraging an official election announcement to get concessions from Morsi on how he'd govern. If the generals didn't get what they wanted, speculation said, the ruling council would declare Shafiq the winner.

The Brotherhood called on its followers to go back to Tahrir Square today to express outrage at the military's council changes to the constitution, giving itself all power over military matters and a final say in the drafting of a permanent constitution.