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.


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%.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 26.

    What did protests lead to?
    Muslim Brotherhood vs Military

    Basicially its a fight between
    extreme Islamism vs moderate Islamism

    Its all about religion

    If the army gives up power
    Egypt will likely become dominated by extremist Islamism
    which could thrust the country into Civil war between extremist Islamics and Native Egyptian Christians/Islamic women who want to be free

  • Comment number 25.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this

    Comment number 24.

    Sure there is less enthusiasm this time round. There must be a feeling in Egypt that nothing will change; the situation will be "fixed" so that the military will maintain control.
    This I believe will lead to more bloodshed, even a civil war.
    The people voted; the results were chucked. What kind of "spring" democracy was this? One that must be acceptable to the west but especially Israel?

  • rate this

    Comment number 23.

    I have been dismayed from the start of the so called Arab Spring by the unqualified support given to the Muslim Brotherhood from the BBC. They have been described as benign, moderates, a charity, and little mention of their hostility to Israel and support for Hamas has been made. Poor reporting BBC. Your bias is obvious.

  • rate this

    Comment number 22.

    Comment 10 is right, this is none of our business, nor is Syria or Libya. We have no idea who we are supporting or encouraging and we should keep well away. Let the Arab League sort out the problems in their backyard.

  • rate this

    Comment number 21.

    I just don't trust all sides. Egypt is not a safe place to be at the moment.

  • rate this

    Comment number 20.

    Sadat, Mubarek & the Egyptian military have been a stabilising force in the middle east & stopped the wars that plagued the area in the 60s and 70s.

    Why do we so quickly drop our support?

  • rate this

    Comment number 19.

    I'll believe it when I see it. Unfortunately, the Egyptians, who campaigned so bravely for democracy, are effectively bound by the word of the military and just have to take it on trust, that they will hand over power.

  • rate this

    Comment number 18.

    I was under the impression that the whole reason the Egyptian rioted in the first place was to oust the military's puppet. Surely this 'declaration' is an afront to all those who protested!

    I feel sorry for those who stood up, watched as change appeared to begin, only for it to be taken from them at the final hurdle.

  • rate this

    Comment number 17.

    Looks like we got another player to jump on the Anti-Assad bandwagon, due the fact that we have a state that is headed by the MB.

  • rate this

    Comment number 16.

    well this was pretty well sign posted.... anybody not see it coming?
    Looks like they need a new revolution!
    When they have succeeded they can come here and show US how to get rid of a unpopular, corrupt and unelected government!

  • rate this

    Comment number 15.

    .....and the moral of this is be careful for what you revolt for...the grass is not always greener.

  • rate this

    Comment number 14.

    Those who demonstrated and died to remove Muhbarak, left his power structure in place.
    The Army is ensuring it retains control over the governance of Egypt.
    The Muslim Brotherhood are claiming victory in the Presidential election before the result has been announced.
    Assad will be smiling.
    We can only hope Egypt does not go down the Algerian road.

  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    "Let the world pray that this other fool republican gets 'shut down' at the polls."

    Republican & Democrat candidates are warmongers, paid for by global corporate interests. There's 3rd candidate, Gary Johnson, who should be supported, but he doesn't have the $bns the other do.

    How does this fit into Egypt? I'd be far more worried about our own governments than the Islamic Brotherhood.

  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    The military has played a shrewd game by realigning support to preserve their privileges and very much remains in business despite these elections.

    Is it the same old story in the Middle East of “You can have democracy as long as you vote for somebody who we and our backers approve of?”

    Unfortunately, revolutions don't always pan out quite as expectations.

  • rate this

    Comment number 11.

    Lets face it... It was a sad day when G W Bush was 'bought in' here in the USA ...AND for the rest of mankind! The USA is still trying to dig it's way out of the massive debt he and his followers put us in. Then we have the aftermath of deaths still going on in Iraq because of ALL those fictional WoMD! Let the world pray that this other fool republican gets 'shut down' at the polls.

  • rate this

    Comment number 10.

    It's strange how the west has welcomed, encouraged & helped the Islamist movement in many arab countries whilst we condemn Taliban sharia in Afghanistan.

    Am I missing something or do our muddled leaders know of some hidden national interest in middle east shifting distinctly to Islamic fundementalists.

  • rate this

    Comment number 9.

    Why are the military granting themself sweeping powers over legislation and the introduction of a new constitution? In annulling Parliament until the panel appointed by the military can draft a constitution favouring the military can be drafted is a coup. For the constitution to reflect the aspirations of the Egyptians it must be drafted by an elected parliament.

  • rate this

    Comment number 8.

    This is outrageous.

    Imagine if someone in this country who was unelected and had a job for life had the right to be able to veto the laws passed by democratically elected representatives?

    Oh wait...

  • rate this

    Comment number 7.

    The Muslim Brotherhood will not pursue a secular agenda. Remember last July when thousands of Brotherhood members demonstrated, chanting Islamist slogans calling for the implementation of Sharia law, and warning that the constitution that will be written must be based on Koranic law?


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