Egyptian Military Retains Power Despite Presidential Election
Muslim Brotherhood candidate wins election but military holds onto bulk of power
While the Muslim Brotherhood declared that its candidate, Mohamed Morsi, had won the Egyptian presidential election on Sunday to become the country’s first democratically elected president, military rulers issued a decree that stripped the position of most of its power and granted themselves the authority to ensure their hold on the state, according to CNN.
Mohamed Morsi appeared to emerge victorious against Ahmed Shafik, who acted as Egypt’s Prime Minister in the final days of the Mubarak regime, after the Egyptian leader was ousted from power in February 2011.
Morsi defeated Shafik with 11.2 million votes, 52.3 per cent of the voting share, compared to the 10.3 million ballots cast in favour of Shafik, the state-run Al-Ahram news reported.
Despite this, the Egyptian military council released an interim constitutional declaration on Monday to dissolve parliament and keep martial law in effect, ultimately limiting the power of the president.
Under the declaration, the military announced that it retains the power to make laws and budget decisions for the country until a new constitution can be written and a new parliament is elected.
Under the military council’s decree, Egypt’s new constitution must be drawn up within three months.
According to the declaration, Supreme Council members “shall decide all matters related to military affairs, including the appointment of its leaders,” while the president has the power to declare war only “after the approval of the SCAF.”
The Brotherhood challenged the military’s move on Sunday, refusing to recognize the dissolution of parliament and rejected the military’s right to issue an interim constitution and oversee the drafting of a new one, according to The Globe and Mail.
The Brotherhood has campaigned to bring Egypt closer to a form of Islamic rule, but the military’s declaration would put it in a position to block that, should Morsi be announced as the official winner of the election.
Shafik would not concede on Sunday, claiming that votes had not yet been tallied in his stronghold districts, such as portions of Cairo.
In his victory speech, Morsi said he seeks “stability, love and brotherhood for the Egyptian civil, national, democratic, constitutional and modern state” making no mention of Islamic law.
“Thank God, who successfully led us to this blessed revolution. Thank God, who guided the people of Egypt to this correct path, the road of freedom, democracy,” he said. “We are not about taking revenge or settling scores. We are all brothers of this nation, we own it together, and we are equal in rights and duties.”
Morsi will be responsible for setting the date for new parliamentary elections and will have the power to pardon. He also maintains the ability to appoint government officials and ambassadors despite heavy military influence.
Morsi did not address the military council’s decree in his speech, but many believe that the president’s loss of power will sharpen the possibility of confrontation in the near future.