Jun 18 2012
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Brotherhood, SCAF on collision course
Monday, Jun 18, 2012
Cairo Relations between Egypt’s military rulers and Islamists have headed for further tensions after the army limited the powers of the new elected president, expected to be from the powerful Muslim Brotherhood, days after an Islamist-controlled parliament was dissolved.
The military generals who took over after Hosni Mubarak was toppled more than a year ago have retaken legislative control after Egypt’s highest court on Thursday invalidated the lower house of the parliament, robbing the powerful Muslim Brotherhood and ultra-conservative Salafists of massive gains they made in elections held late last year.
The dissolution was condemned by the Brotherhood as a “coup against democracy”.
“The chief of the council will have all the powers, set out in laws and regulations for the general commander of the Armed Forces and the defence minister until a new constitution is written,” stated the document amending a constitutional declaration issued in March last year.
The constitutional changes were declared hours before the Muslim Brotherhood claimed the win of its senior official Mohammad Mursi in a tense presidential run-off that pitted him against Ahmad Shafiq, Mubarak’s last premier and an ex-army general.
‘Modern, democratic state’
There were scenes of jubilation at Mursi’s Cairo headquarters, where the candidate himself thanked Egyptians for their votes in brief remarks after the Brotherhood said he had secured 52 per cent of the ballots cast.
Mursi pledged to work “hand-in-hand with all Egyptians for a better future, freedom, democracy, development and peace.”
“We are not seeking vengeance or to settle accounts,” he said, adding that he would build a “modern, democratic state” for all Egyptians, Muslims and Christians alike.
A Shafiq campaign official disputed the Brotherhood claim of victory, saying their figures showed its man was leading in the count.
“We reject it completley,” Mahmoud Baraka said of the Brotherhood claim. “We are astonished by this bizarre behaviour which amounts to a hijacking of the election results.” Mursi supporters screamed with excitement, some wiping tears from their eyes. Several hundred people staged a victory rally in Cairo’s iconic Tahrir Square, the hub of protests that led to Mubarak’s departure in February 2011.
The military will also have the power to form an assembly to write a permanent constitution, thereby scrapping a similar commission by the disbanded legislature earlier this month. The amended declaration states that the military council’s chief will have, along with the head of the state, the prime minister, the state-appointed Supreme Judicial Council and one fifth of the 100-strong constituent assembly, the power to veto articles in the draft constitution deemed to “counter the objectives and basic principles of the revolution that serve the country’s supreme interests”. The Supreme Constitutional Court will have to rule on such disputes in seven days.
“This declaration prevents the new president from fulfilling his electoral platform,” the Muslim Brotherhood said in a terse statement.
Abdul Moneim Abu Al Fotouh, an ex-official in the group, slammed the document as a “complete military coup”. “We all have to face it,” Al Fotouh, a former presidential contender, wrote on his Twitter account.
The amendments drew scathing criticism from liberals too. “They break the military’s promise to transfer power to an elected civilian administration by the end of this month,” said Amr Hamzawi, a former liberal lawmaker.” They also mean that the military council has become a state of its own, wielding massive executive and legislative powers,” he added.
However, the council yesterday renewed a pledge to transfer power to the elected president by the end of this month. “The Egyptian people will see the Armed Forces transferring power to the president whom the election commission declares its election at a major festival,” said Major General Mohammad Al Assar, a member of the ruling military council. “The elected president will get all presidential powers,” he added.
Major General Mamdouh Shahin, another SCAF member, played down the controversy over the military’s perceived sweeping powers. “The Armed Forces will not interfere in the way the state affairs will be administered,” he told the same conference.
“Now that the People’s Assembly [the legislature] has been dissolved, the SCAF has replaced it. But it cannot issue a law on its own. The laws will have to be approved by the president. Thus, there is no monopoly of power. Rather, there is balance.”
Observers say that the military will cling to power until a permanent constitution is approved in a public vote and a new parliament is elected, a process that may not be completed before the end of the year.
By Ramadan Al Sherbini Correspondent
© Gulf News 2012. All rights reserved.
© Copyright Zawya. All Rights Reserved.
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