Egypt awaits election result
Entities jockey for power, portending uncertain direction
CAIRO – As Egypt awaited the official results of its first free presidential election, the country appeared Monday to be entering a prolonged period of instability as the various bodies of government – the ruling military council, the Muslim Brotherhood, the parliament and the assembly charged with writing a new constitution – competed for governing power.
The speaker of parliament, Mohamed Saad el Katatni, announced that he would convene a session of the legislative body today in defiance of the military council’s decree that it was dissolved, potentially setting the stage for a showdown in front of the building.
The Muslim Brotherhood, whose candidate, Mohammed Morsi, claimed early Monday to have won the weekend’s close runoff vote for president, dismissed as invalid the military council’s amendments to the constitution that limited presidential powers. The council also asserted that its powers extended to writing laws, yet a constitutional assembly named last week to draft a new constitution met on Monday anyway, inside the chambers of the dissolved parliament.
Ahmed Shafiq, Morsi’s presidential rival and former President Hosni Mubarak’s last prime minister, rejected claims that he had lost the election, saying he would file a formal appeal today. The official election commission is expected to issue its tally on Wednesday.
Amid all the jockeying for position – and a growing chorus of Egyptians decrying the generals’ moves as tantamount to a counterrevolution against the popular uprising that toppled Mubarak – the military council held a rare press conference, where it asked the public to trust that it was only interested in preserving Egypt’s security. Maj. Gen. Mohammed al Assar vowed that the council would hand over power July 1, when the new president is to be sworn in.
“With complete authority, with all due respect, and he will be the head of state, there is no doubt about that,” al Assar told reporters.
Yet under the terms of the temporary constitution, the military council will still hold much of the nation’s governing power for at least four months afterward, while the constitutional assembly writes a new charter and new parliamentary elections are held.