Shattered Spring

An Egyptian vendor displays pins of Muslim brotherhood candidate Mohammed Morsi and Arabic that reads, "revival" in Tahrir Square, Cairo, Egypt, June 18, 2012. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)

Egypt’s Supreme Council of the Armed Forces promised Monday they would transfer power to the new president by the end of June, following the decree it issued Sunday under which it maintains significant powers until a new constitution is written, limiting the power of that president.

Inspection of SCAF’s decree reveals that the military has not only given itself power to potentially form the committee that will write the constitution, but also legislative power until a new parliament is elected.

It has mandated its head as the head of the army, rather than the president, until a new constitution, clauses of which it has given itself veto power over, is written.

This decree will heavily circumscribe the power of the future president, and is being seen by many as a pre-emptive coup to ward against the possibility that Egypt’s Islamists will triumph in elections. It follows the military’s decision Saturday to dissolve the parliament, in which the Muslim Brotherhood gained a majority in elections six months ago.

SCAF’s pledge Monday was made without naming the new president, evidence that SCAF agrees with those who say the vote can still not officially be declared, despite the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohammad Mursi having claimed victory.

Meanwhile, those around Ahmad Shafiq, once a prime minister under Hosni Mubarak, are accusing Mursi’s side of attempting to hijack the election.

The figures on the election so far suggest that those who were actually willing to vote are split in half between Shafiq and Mursi.

An Islamist president seems a real possibility, but if they lose their parliamentary majority, given SCAF’s latest maneuver, that president will be paralyzed, forced to turn to the military to make any major decisions.

The country’s Islamists are already reacting to challenges to their claims of victory as though the past few months have not happened, threatening to send their people to Tahrir Square to protest.

This situation does not bode well for a country that’s in dire need of, firstly, security and stability so that people can return to work and the government can begin attempts to revive the dying economy, bridge the country’s deficit and attract investors.

Egypt’s spring revolution may yet turn into an autumn for the country, thanks to the immature and undemocratic manner in which political matters have been carried out, whereby hopes for a smooth transition to civilian rule have not only been dashed, but have created a deadlock, the end of which nobody can foresee.

The priorities of the military should be focused on redirecting democratic operations onto the right track in order to create the state that everybody has been dreaming of since the first days of last year’s revolution.

To continue on the current path creates a real threat of violence, which many fear certain parties would like to see erupt in Egypt. The price of that will be colossal for all.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on June 19, 2012, on page 7.




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