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%.


More on This Story

Egypt transition


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  • rate this

    Comment number 46.

    The success of the MB just shows that there was no Arab Spring and proof that we should not waste one Brit soldiers life fighting for tribes in Syria who would simply follow suit and vote for people who still follow fairy stories. As for William Hague you want to declare the opposition in Syria as freedom fighters ask who they are being supplied by (Islamist countries).

  • rate this

    Comment number 45.

    "Well if the Muslim Brotherhood have gained power its a sad day for most Egyptians"
    I don't think "most Egyptians" agree with you. Over 11 million voters chose the Brotherhood's candidate. Muslims believe Islam protects freedom, justice &equality. Islam gives equal rights to the rich &the poor. Human-made laws brought nothing but injustice, corruption &imbalance to the world

  • rate this

    Comment number 44.

    The military council were wrong footed by the Uprising in Egypt but have worked to claw back power. The first elections are deemed invalid, they even got one of their own in the race for President.. Apparently they got conscripts to vote illegally so their man got through to the run-off. I wonder if he will emerge as President. They have given themselves the power to write the new constitution.

  • rate this

    Comment number 43.

    Revolution or coup d'etat?

    Ukraine / Russia also having problems continuing their democracy.
    There needs to be a UN body to help organise new governments and constitutions when a new democracy is created.

    I hope Egypt will become a proper democracy but a long way still to go yet...

  • rate this

    Comment number 42.

    A Parliament dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood and a Muslim Brotherhood President is an outcome the Egyptian military cannot entertain.
    The dissolving of Parliament and the reduction of the President role to a figurehead is the Military's attempt to retain the status quo,
    Expect the round ups to begin shortly after the declaration of the Presidential vote.

  • rate this

    Comment number 41.

    What the majority in Egypt wants
    is the military ceding power to the President

    What would Egypt look like with the Muslim Brotherhood
    controlling Egypt's military?

    How will their policies change toward Israel, Britain+America?

    Will Egypt become Iran's ally?

  • rate this

    Comment number 40.

    "Without that no President is in control."

    Presidents not being in charge of the army is a good thing. Parliament/Congress is -supposed- to be in charge of allowing military action in the UK/US, though Obama seems to believe he can go to war without his Congress's approval, despite it being illegal.

    Given a president the nuke button and you have the danger that they will use it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 39.

    What was the point?
    All those people dead, all those people wounded, traumatized, threatened, displaced in the name of the Arab Spring and what has been achieved? There has been no revolution because the military was in control before and it is in control after.
    The only solution is to start again and do it properly.

  • rate this

    Comment number 38.

    ProfPhoenix @ 23
    Controlled Pair @ 25

    Maybe the AEI, via the White House, via the CIA and other Israeli covert operators shot themselves in the foot then?

  • rate this

    Comment number 37.

    Its sad to see another country under the control of the USA. They created the modern Egyptian army from the ground up , they supply all its logistical needs and even help pay its ruling generals. When will the world wake up to how the USA its behind most of the unrest in the ME they care nothing for democracy only only that they sell the most weapons and everyone follows their agenda

  • Comment number 36.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 35.

    Sure they do.

  • rate this

    Comment number 34.

    'It also strips the president of any authority over the army.'
    Without that no President is in control.

  • rate this

    Comment number 33.

    Bradford: Why do we so quickly drop our support?

    B/c Pres Obama said he supported the protesters
    against Mubarack

    Our muddled leaders are scared of the Islamic Extremists Revolution
    so they are pretending we are on their side

    However Islamic extremists are against
    any person or country that is not an Islamic extremist also

    Basically its about religious domination over the world

  • rate this

    Comment number 32.

    Our hearts go out to common Egyptians as their cries for freedom go unanswered.The army holds all the levers of power. Naturally all enthusiasm has been dampened as the military holds on to power. The Arab Spring initially heralded hope and enthusiasm but that has turned sour. The clock has been turned back yet again. Power inevitably corrupts and the military will guard its privileges zealously.

  • rate this

    Comment number 31.

    Is Islamic Democracy an oxymoron? It certainly seems a lost cause.

    It would appear that when Islamic nations get democracy, they don't really know what to do with it and end up fighting each other until another strong man rises to the top.

    You can count the number of 'free' Islamic democracies on the fingers of.... well, three fingers!

  • rate this

    Comment number 30.

    Constitutional declaration (issued by SCAF - Supreme Council of the Armed Forces) effectively gives it
    - legislative powers,
    - control over the budget &
    - who writes permanent constitution
    - POWER while it
    - reigns in role of the new president.
    Egyptian voters will not tolerate this; in effect, the revolution has been stolen by SCAF. Egyptian citizens will take it back, or die trying.

  • rate this

    Comment number 29.

    23 ProfPhoenix - There's a similar bias when it comes to reporting on Syria. When the "rebels" (who would otherwise be called terrorists) kill civilians, there is hardly a mention of it. They even announced they would not heed the ceasefire, yet no media coverage of that.

    There is no "good" side in these conflicts, they are all in the wrong, and the lesser of two evils is still evil.

  • rate this

    Comment number 28.

    @26 "Its all about religion"

    A simplistic and banal assessment. What you see is the result of no real political opposition-the protestors were not represented in the elections by a cogent organisation, the military and m/bro' were, and used it to their advantage.

    It's been said that there is no defeating an idea whose time has come, so maybe freedom in Egypt just needs more time...

  • rate this

    Comment number 27.

    Smart move by the army

    two thumbs up =)


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