Military set to stay in power in Egypt

2012-06-15 10:21

kalahari.com

  • The Muslim Brotherhood
    This book provides an in-depth analysis of the Muslim Brotherhood during the years of al-Hudaybi's... Now R528.00
    buy now
Cairo - Judges appointed by Hosni Mubarak have dissolved the Islamist-dominated parliament and ruled his former prime minister eligible for the presidential runoff election this weekend - setting the stage for the military and remnants of the old regime to stay in power.

Thursday's politically charged rulings dealt a heavy blow to the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood, with one senior member calling the decisions a "full-fledged coup", and the group vowed to rally the public against Ahmed Shafiq, the last prime minister to serve under Mubarak.

The decision by the Supreme Constitutional Court effectively erased the tenuous progress from Egypt's troubled transition in the past year, leaving the country with no parliament and concentrating power even more firmly in the hands of the generals who took over from Mubarak.

Several hundred people gathered in Cairo's Tahrir Square after the rulings to denounce the action and rally against Shafiq, the presidential candidate seen by critics as a symbol of Mubarak's autocratic rule.

Military reluctant to give up power - activists

But with no calls by the Brotherhood or other groups for massive demonstrations, the crowd did not grow.

Activists who engineered Egypt's uprising have long suspected that the generals would try to cling to power, explaining that after 60 years as the nation's single most dominant institution, the military would be reluctant to surrender its authority or leave its economic empire to civilian scrutiny.

Shafiq's rival in the Saturday-Sunday runoff, Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood, said he was unhappy about the rulings but accepted them.

"It is my duty as the future president of Egypt, God willing, to separate between the state's authorities and accept the rulings," the US-trained engineer said in a television interview.

Late Thursday, he told a news conference: "Millions will go to the ballot boxes on Saturday and Sunday to say 'no' to the tyrants."

Brotherhood biggest party in legislature

Senior Brotherhood leader and lawmaker Mohammed el-Beltagy was less diplomatic.

"This is the Egypt that Shafiq and the military council want and which I will not accept no matter how dear the price is," he wrote on his Facebook page.

Equally blunt was another Brotherhood stalwart, lawmaker Subhi Saleh. "The court, I can say, has handed Egypt to the military council on a golden platter and free of charge too," he said.

In last year's parliamentary elections - Egypt's first democratic ones in generations - the Brotherhood became the biggest party in the legislature, with nearly half the seats, alongside more conservative Islamists who took another 20%. It is hoping to win the presidency as well.

The rulings, however, take away the Brotherhood's power base in parliament and boost Shafiq at a time when the Islamists are at sharp odds with a wide array of major forces, including the military, the judiciary and pro-democracy groups behind the uprising.

The court also derailed the broader transition to democracy, said rights activist Hossam Bahgat.

"The military placed all powers in its hands. The entire process has been undermined beyond repair," Bahgat said.

"They now have the legislative and the executive powers in their hands and there is a big likelihood that the military-backed candidate (Shafiq) is going to win. It is a soft military coup that unfortunately many people will support out of fear of an Islamist takeover of the state."

Military vehicles in Cairo

On Wednesday, the military-appointed government gave security forces the right to arrest civilians for a range of vague crimes such as disrupting traffic and the economy that would give it a mandate to crack down on protests.

Many saw the move as evidence that the generals aim to stay in power beyond the July 1 deadline they announced for handing it over to a civilian president.

All day Thursday, military armoured vehicles circulated through Cairo's streets playing patriotic songs as soldiers passed out leaflets urging passers-by to vote in the runoff election. Plastered on the side of their vehicles were posters saying "the army and the people are one hand".

After the court's decision was announced, a visibly energised Shafiq spoke at a rally that had the trappings of a victory celebration.

Race polarises country

Supporters chanted "We love you, Mr President," and the 70-year-old candidate blew kisses to them. In his address, he praised the military and said he hoped for a dramatic change in the makeup of the next parliament.

"We want a parliament that realistically represents all segments of the Egyptian people and a civil state whose borders and legitimacy are protected by our valiant armed forces," said Shafiq, a longtime friend and self-confessed admirer of Mubarak.

The presidential race has already deeply polarised the country.

Shafiq's opponents view him as an extension of Mubarak's authoritarian regime. Morsi's critics fears he and the Brotherhood will turn Egypt into an Islamic state and curtail freedom.

Leftist, liberal and secular forces who launched the pro-democracy uprising bemoaned the choice, and some talked of a boycott.

Now they and the Brotherhood accused the military of using the court to change the rules of the game.

In its ruling, the court said a third of the legislature was elected illegally, and as a result, "the makeup of the entire chamber is illegal and, consequently, it does not legally stand".

Mubarak gets life

The law governing the parliamentary elections was ruled unconstitutional by a lower court because it breached the principle of equality when it allowed party members to contest a third of the seats set aside for independents. The remaining two-thirds were contested by party slates.

In a separate ruling, the court said Shafiq could stay in the runoff election, rejecting a law passed by parliament last month that barred prominent figures from the old regime from running for office.

Mubarak was sentenced to life in prison on June 2 for failing to prevent the killing of some 900 protesters during the uprising. About three dozen figures from his regime are also in prison, either charged with or convicted of corruption.

Defenders of the law argued that after a revolution aimed at removing Mubarak, parliament had a right to prevent regime members from returning to power.

The law's opponents called it political revenge targeting Shafiq. The court said the law was not based on "objective grounds" and was discriminatory, violating "the principle of equality".

"This historic ruling sends the message that the era of score-settling and tailor-made law is over," Shafiq said at his rally.

Public appeal

Now, elections will have to be organised to choose a new parliament, and the Brotherhood is in a weaker position than it was during its powerful showing in the first election, held over three months starting in November 2011.

After its election victory, the Brotherhood tried to translate those gains into governing power but was repeatedly stymied by the military.

At the same time, there has been widespread public dissatisfaction with the Islamist-led parliament, which many criticised as ineffective.

The Brotherhood's popularity has also declined because of moves that critics saw as attempts to monopolise the political scene and advance its own power.

It angered liberals, leftists and secular Egyptians when it and other Islamists tried to dominate a parliament-created panel writing a new constitution.

The panel was dissolved by court order, and a second one was selected by parliament in a process that was boycotted by liberals who accused the Brotherhood of packing it with Islamists, as they did with the first one.

Warnings of more protests

The dissolution of parliament now raises the possibility that the military council could appoint the panel, a step that would fuel accusations that it is hijacking the process.

The legal adviser of the Freedom and Justice Party, the Brotherhood's political arm, said the court rulings were "political," lamenting the outgoing legislature as the country's "only legitimate and elected body."

"They are hoping to hand it over to Ahmed Shafiq and make him the only legal authority in the absence of parliament. The people will not accept this and we will isolate the toppled regime," Mukhtar el-Ashry said in a posting on the party's website.

A moderate Islamist and a former presidential candidate, Abdel-Moneim Abolfotoh, warned that the pro-democracy groups which engineered the uprising would protest the court's rulings.

"Those who believe that the millions of young people will let this pass are fooling themselves," he wrote on his Twitter account.

Lobna Darwish, an activist and longtime critic of the military, said the rulings showed the entire electoral process was a "distraction" from organising people in neighbourhoods to realise the goals of the uprising.
"The military ended up getting everything and we got nothing," she said.
- SAPA
Read more on:    muslim brotherhood  |  ahmed shafiq  |  egypt  |  egypt elections  |  north africa
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
4 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/World

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

Up to 40% off fashion accessories

Save up to 40% on selected handbags, purses, watches, jewellery and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Save up to R2000 on top electronics

Get every day mind bowing savings on top electronics. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

As seen on TV - New book releases at only R199 each

Get mind blowing book savings on new titles. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Save up to 50% on Women’s month treats!

Celebrate the awesome women in your life with awesome treats like beauty products, fashion accessories, bestselling books, electronics and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 60% off - clearance sale!

Save up to 60% on appliances, books, electronics, toys, movies and more. Offer valid 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 an emphasis on work. There may be some restrictions, or delays or extra responsibilities. It is all about rhythm and...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.