Egypt army, MPs - clash over president

2012-05-22 20:58

Cairo - Egypt's army and mainly Islamist politicians have deferred talks on what powers the new president will have until after this week's presidential vote, which is unlikely to produce an outright winner, political sources said on Tuesday.

Egyptians go to the polls on Wednesday and Thursday and if no candidate gains more than 50% of the vote, the top two contenders will fight a run-off in June.

The military council that took over after Hosni Mubarak was toppled last year has promised to hand over to a newly elected president by 1 July, but no one knows what constitutional authority the next head of state will have.

An assembly that was to have written a new constitution was suspended in April amid acrimony between Islamists and their more secular-minded rivals.

Political parties and the military had then hoped to agree on interim constitutional changes to regulate the powers of the president, government and parliament before the presidential election, but informal talks have failed to produce a deal.

"No one really knows what the outcome of this vote is. And neither side feels it should set down just yet what powers the unknown president will have over the state," an Egyptian official with knowledge of the talks said.

Under an army-drafted constitutional decree approved by a referendum in March 2011, the president does not have the power to dissolve parliament, which is now dominated by Islamists.

The Muslim Brotherhood, whose Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) won the biggest bloc in the assembly in an election completed in January, says that interim document will suffice until a permanent constitution is drafted.

The army, in power since "Free Officers" ousted King Farouk in 1952, appears determined to retain a political role, even as it formally makes way for a civilian president.

Military stalling

One demand of the military is to restrict the president's authority over army appointments and his ability to go to war without the consent of the generals. One official said one idea was for the military to give the president a limited list of names from which to pick a defence minister and top commanders.

It is not clear whether Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, defence minister for almost 21 years, will resign when a new president and government emerge, although some officials say the 76-year-old may well step down.

General Mamdouh Shahin, a member of the military council, said weeks ago that articles delineating the role of the president could be issued before a head of state is elected.

But he backed down on Monday when it became clear that no agreement had emerged from a series of informal meetings between the military and political parties, including the FJP.

The Brotherhood has said it does not want to confront the generals, but senior members of Egypt's oldest and most potent Islamist group say the military's demands are too high.

"The military council is very worried now that if a president is elected and the military council does not have influence over the drafting of the constitution, their position in the state will be undermined. They are very resistant to this," Essam Haddad, senior Brotherhood member.

Mubarak, a former air force chief, had full control over military appointments and dismissals, as well as the defence budget. He also controlled defence procurement.

Secret budget

The military would resist allowing a civilian president to have those prerogatives, sources familiar with the talks said.

It wants to shield its budget from public scrutiny, allowing it to be discussed only by parliament's national security committee headed by an ex-general, the sources said.

Army officials say the military's sprawling commercial enterprises keep it financially self-sufficient and resistant to economic troubles which could affect the broader state.

"The Turkish model for the relationship between the state and the military seems to be where Egypt is heading," said Essam Erian, a senior FJP member.

He was referring to the Turkish military's once-powerful political role, now much eroded by Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's Islamist-rooted ruling party, a change of fortunes dramatised by a series of trials of top military commanders.

"But we do not want to start where Turkey is now," Erian said.

Read more on:    egypt  |  north africa  |  egypt elections 2012
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/Sport
 

3 sports games you have to watch this weekend

Whether it’s date night or a braai with buddies, plan around these three exciting sporting games!

 
 

Men24.com

Everyday struggles of naturally skinny guys
And this year's Miss Bumbum title goes to...
How to maintain your mo, bro
Hottie of the day: Colette

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

20% off ALL TV Series

Choose from 1000’s of the hottest TV Series . While stocks last. Shop now!

Festive gifts!

Check out our awesome range of festive gifts to make everyone’s wishes come true. Shop now!

Seen something you like in our catalogue?

Find the perfect gift and save up to R5000 – As seen on the catalogue. Hurry and shop now!

Save up to R2200 on electronics! – As seen in the catalogue

Wishing for tech gadgets this festive? Save up to R2100 on hot tech products at kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 35% off books

Save up to 35% on the latest page-turners. While stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

There is a strong focus on social interaction and connecting with your friends. You may have the need to expand and connect with a...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.