Egypt's army vows to hand power to elected president

 

The BBC's Jon Leyne in Cairo explains the implications of the military's move

Egypt's ruling military council has vowed to hand over power to an elected president by the end of June.

The promise comes as votes are counted after Sunday's presidential run-off election, with both candidates claiming they are ahead in early results.

However, the council had earlier issued a declaration granting itself sweeping powers over legislation and the introduction of a new constitution.

Opposition groups condemned the declaration as a "coup".

Interim Constitutional Declaration

  • Issued by ruling Supreme Council of Armed Forces (Scaf)
  • Amends Constitutional Declaration of March 2011
  • Grants Scaf powers to initiate legislation, control budget, appoint panel to draft new constitution
  • Postpones new parliamentary elections until new constitution is approved

Lt Muhammad al-Assar from the Supreme Council of Armed Forces (Scaf) told a news conference that a ceremony would be held in late June to hand over power to the new president, state media report.

However, the constitutional declaration issued by the Scaf late on Sunday effectively gives it legislative powers, control over the budget and over who writes the permanent constitution following mass street protests that toppled Mr Mubarak in February 2011.

It also strips the president of any authority over the army.

Analysis

In Tahrir Square, a veiled woman ululated and young men danced while holding up a large plastic banner of the retiring, bearded engineer Mohammed Mursi, whom they were confident would be Egypt's new president.

The candidate's Muslim Brotherhood has claimed that he won 52% of the vote compared with 48% for his rival, former PM Ahmed Shafiq.

The Shafiq campaign criticised the Islamist group for its victory announcement, saying it represented "bizarre behaviour" ahead of any official confirmation of the final result.

Some participants in the Tahrir Square rally felt their celebrations were overshadowed by the interim constitutional declaration made by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces.

It defined the prerogatives of both the next president and the ruling military after Egypt's supreme court dissolved the elected parliament - dominated by Islamists - last week.

Analysts speculate that if official results confirm Mr Mursi has won the presidential election, a power struggle between the Brotherhood and the military - two of Egypt's strongest forces - looks likely, possibly bringing more of the turmoil that has characterised the process of democratic transition.

The Scaf have even guaranteed themselves jobs for life, the BBC's Jon Leyne in Cairo reports.

'Grave setback'

There have been no big protests so far - the military must be hoping that Egyptians are simply too tired of politics to protest, and are willing to go for stability whatever the cost, our correspondent says.

But the army's declaration was widely condemned in opposition circles.

Prominent political figure Mohamed ElBaradei has described the document as a "grave setback for democracy and revolution".

Former presidential candidate Hamdeen Sabahi, who came third in the first round of voting and was the favoured candidate of many in the protest movement, said the declaration was a "seizure of the future of Egypt".

"We will not accept domination by any party," Mr Sabahi said.

Parliament speaker Saad al-Katatni, of the Muslim Brotherhood, said the declaration was "null and void".

The Brotherhood had earlier urged Egyptians to "protect their revolution" after the Scaf dissolved parliament - dominated by the Brotherhood - on Saturday.

Two days earlier, the Supreme Constitutional Court ruled that last year's legislative polls were unconstitutional because party members were allowed to contest seats in the lower house reserved for independents.

Election candidates

Ahmed Shafiq and Mohammed Mursi

Ahmed Shafiq (l)

  • Aged 70
  • Veteran fighter pilot and former air force commander
  • Appointed Egypt's first aviation minister, earning reputation for competence and efficiency
  • Promoted to PM during February 2011 protests
  • Associated with former regime, though denies being backed by ruling military council
  • Campaigned on a promise to restore security

Mohammed Mursi

  • Aged 60
  • US-educated engineering professor
  • Head of Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party (FJP)
  • Served as independent MP 2000-05
  • Quietly spoken, viewed by some as lacking charisma
  • Has promised "stability, security, justice and prosperity" under an Islamic banner

On Monday morning, soldiers prevented MPs from entering parliament.

'No revenge'

The Muslim Brotherhood's Mohammed Mursi ran in Sunday's poll against Ahmed Shafiq, who served as prime minister under former President Hosni Mubarak.

The Brotherhood said Mr Mursi was holding a 52%-48% lead over Mr Shafiq with almost all the vote counted after Sunday's second-round run-off election.

Speaking at his party headquarters, Mr Mursi pledged to be a president for all Egyptians, adding that he would not "seek revenge or settle scores".

Hundreds of Mr Mursi's supporters gathered in Cairo's Tahrir Square to celebrate his declaration of victory.

But Mr Shafiq's campaign said it rejected "completely" Mr Mursi's victory claim, and that figures it had obtained showed Mr Shafiq in the lead.

Official results from the Higher Presidential Election Commission (HPEC) will be announced on Thursday, state TV reported.

Correspondents say that there was less enthusiasm in the run-off election than there was for previous rounds of voting, and some called for a boycott or spoiled ballots.

Mr Shafiq came second to Mr Mursi in last month's first round, in which turnout among the 52 million eligible voters was only 46%.

 

More on This Story

Egypt in transition

Comments

This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
 
  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 6.

    Mursi is a moderate in the Muslim Brotherhood, and it's hardly surprising voters chose him over the PM of the old regime. Good luck to him in steering Egypt down a new path.

    With the Army freeing itself from government control, we can only hope Egypt doesn't go down the road Pakistan has travelled in the past, with the Army throwing out any democratically elected leader they don't like.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 5.

    "...but military rulers insist they will hand power to an elected president."

    They must be pretty sure that their candidate will win.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 4.

    @1.cantonboycardiff

    Egypt is a Sunni majority, so any caliph would be elected by the population (so nominally equivalent to a democratically elected president) But why would you think Jerusalem has anything to do with this? Surely Medina or Mecca would be the choice of an Islamic capital?

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 3.

    Let us hope they mean it, though only time will tell - if they do then fair play to them.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 2.

    winning power in an election is one thing, actually governing and improving a country and helping it's people in the goal of a better life is entirely different matter. no improvement the people will take to street again and have another revolution.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 1.

    Well if the Muslim Brotherhood have gained power its a sad day for most Egyptians their radical view of Islam includes the restoration of female circumcision and sharia law and the formation of an islamic caliphate with its capital in Jerusalem.With all the consequences that this policy will bring.

 

Page 15 of 15

 

More Middle East stories

RSS

Features

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.