06/18/2012, 00.00
EGYPT

As Islamists claim victory in presidential poll, military take back power

In a surprise move, the military issue a decree that limits the powers of the future president, and gives them the right to appoint the members of the new constituent assembly. Pro-democracy political leaders and Islamists condemned the move as a military coup.

Cairo (AsiaNews) - Egypt' Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) is taking advantage of the clashes between the two presidential candidates, Mohammed Morsy (Muslim Brotherhood) and Ahmed Shafiq (a former prime minister under Mubarak). In a declaration, the SCAF issued a decree that limits the powers of the future head of state and gives itself the power to choose members of the future constituent assembly.

The declaration was signed last night, just before polls closed, just a few days after Egypt's Supreme Constitutional Court dissolved the lower house of parliament, effectively terminating the constituent assembly as well.

Under its new rules, the SCAF will maintain legislative power for an undetermined period of time; it will control over foreign aid and reserves the right to appoint members of the constituent assembly.

New parliamentary elections will be held only after a new constitution is adopted.

Various political leaders have described the military's move as a "silent coup" to ensure the SCAF stays in power.

The 6 April Youth Movement called on Egyptians to come out to protest against the military.

For pro-democracy leader and Nobel peace Prize laureate Mohammed el-Baradei, the decree is a "grave setback for democracy and revolution," an affront to the values of democracy embodied by the Jasmine Revolution.

Former presidential candidate Hamdeen Sabahi, who had been backed by pro-democracy movements, described the military's declaration as a "seizure of the future of Egypt".

The military's decree is unconstitutional and meaningless, said Independent Islamist Ahmed Fotouh, once viewed as a favourite for the presidency.

The military's action marks a turning point in Egypt's post Mubarak era. It cuts down to size the ambitions of the Muslim Brotherhood, which claims to have won the presidential election with 52 per cent of the vote, a Pyrrhic victory for experts.

Even if the Brotherhood did win, the military's powers would not be touched. By dissolving parliament, the SCAF has created mistrust in the population, as evinced by the low turnout (under 50 per cent) in the presidential poll and the high number of spoilt ballots.

For many Egyptians, the Jasmine Revolution has now become a pipe dream.

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