Cairo (AsiaNews) - Mohammed Morsi, Egypt's newly
elected president, has challenged the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces
(SCAF). In a presidential decree signed last night, he overturned SCAF's
decision to dissolve parliament in response to a ruling by the Supreme Constitutional
At present, the latter has not yet reacted to the
presidential move, but SCAF is set to meet in an emergency meeting. The Islamist-controlled
parliament is also expected to meet tomorrow, local sources reported. Its proceedings
will be legal until fresh parliamentary elections are held in September.
In Egyptian media, the legality of the president's
move is hotly debated. Many now fear an open showdown between the military and
supporters of the Mubarak regime against the Muslim Brotherhood, winner of the elections
to the dissolved parliament.
In public at least, Morsi and SCAF chief Marshal Tantawi
appeared at ease with each other. Both attended military manoeuvres, talking and
For various analysts, the president's decree is an
open challenge to the SCAF, and might be the beginning of a power struggle
between the two centres of power.
"It all depends on whether the SCAF was acting in
its legislative capacity-which the military council assumed upon the
dissolution of parliament last month-or whether it was relying on its executive
power in its capacity as acting president," Aly Shalakany, partner at the
Cairo-based Shalakany Law Firm, told Ahram
If the SCAF dissolved parliament's lower house in its
executive capacity, Morsi would have the constitutional powers to reverse
previous executive decisions, including the SCAF's resolution dissolving
parliament. However, the transitional constitution adopted in March 2011 is not
clear whether the president has full powers.
"According to Article 25 of the Constitutional
Declaration, the president is not granted sub-point 2 of Article 56, which
includes 'approving or implementing public policy,' a very broad term," Shalakany
explained. "It could be argued that Morsi's revocation of the SCAF decree
affects public policy-an action he cannot do."
In mid-June, the Supreme Constitutional Court overturned
the outcome of a third of seats in the People's Assembly of Egypt (lower house)
elected in January (dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafists) because
certain parts of the election law were unconstitutional.
This gave SCAF, which has ruled Egypt since the fall
of Hosni Mubarak, an opportunity to dissolve the People's Assembly and seized legislative
power. Islamist groups, especially the Brotherhood, have cried foul, accusing
the military of carrying out a coup.
Following his election, Morsi could not take his oath
of office before parliament but had to do it in front of the Supreme
Constitutional Court, which had caused the latter's dissolution. As part of the
ceremony, the new president had to swear to uphold the decisions of the courts,
including the highest court of the land.