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Egypt's elect-president Mohamed Mursi and field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, the supreme head of the military council (Photo: Ahram Online)
Mursi declared Egypt's first civilian president, but military remains in control
Muslim Brotherhood's Mohamed Mursi becomes Egypt's first freely-elected, non-military head of state – but his diminished presidential authority under last week's 'constitutional addendum' raises question marks
Muslim Brotherhood presidential candidate Mohamed Mursi
has been named Egypt's fifth president after narrowly defeating his rival, Mubarak-era PM Ahmed Shafiq
, in the hotly-contested presidential elections
' runoffs. His victory, however, is barely expected to bring immediate stability to the turmoil-hit country.
The final results, which gave 52 per cent of the vote to Mursi, were announced around 4:30pm, Sunday, at the Cairo headquarters of the Supreme Presidential Electoral Commission (SPEC).
The announcement sparked massive celebrations in Cairo's Tahrir Square, the epicentre of Egypt's uprising.
According to the final tally, Mursi won 13,280,131 votes against 12,347,380 (a bit over 48 per cent) for Shafiq, according to the SPEC's official vote count, announced after allegations of electoral fraud – filed by both candidates' campaigns – were declared.
The total number of registered voters in Egypt stands at 50,958,794. Voter turnout in the presidential runoff was 26,420,763 (nearly 52 per cent). The total number of valid ballots cast was 25,575,511, while the number of voided ballots was 843,252.
"I would like to thank the military council, the judicial system and the police for their efforts in making the elections clean and fair," Mursi campaign manager Ahmed Abdel-Atti said shortly after the announcement.
Mursi, who resigned as head of the Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) shortly after the result announcement, launched his presidential campaign after Brotherhood second-in-command Khairat El-Shater was disqualified from the race by Egypt's electoral commission in April. El-Shater was disqualified due to a prior criminal conviction under the Mubarak regime.
Mursi's win in Egypt's first-ever genuine multi-candidate presidential election puts an end to a 60-year military monopoly on the office of president. His predecessors, who ruled the country since the 1952 Free Officers' coup – Mohamed Naguib, Gamal Abdel-Nasser, Anwar El-Sadat and Hosni Mubarak – all came from within the army's ranks.
Mursi's victory, however, does not mean that the military will loosen its current grip on power. Recent decisions by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) give the military junta expanded authorities at the expense of both parliament and the office of the presidency.
State above the state?
The SCAF released late on Sunday 17 June an addendum to the military-authored March 2011 Constitutional Declaration, giving the SCAF complete independence as Egypt's military institution, and magnifying its political authorities, critics say.
The articles of the amended Constitutional Declaration put the SCAF in sole charge of the armed forces and its affairs, including selecting military leaders including the defence minister. The president will also not be able to declare a state of war or order the deployment of troops, even to contain domestic disturbances, without the military council's consent, according to the terms of the constitutional addendum.
Politically, the SCAF has the authority to appoint a new Constituent Assembly tasked with drafting a new constitution, should the current assembly be dismantled.
"[The addendum] means that the SCAF has become a state above the state, with wide legislative and executive powers, a veto on constitutional and other political matters, and stands immune to any challenges," liberal political analyst Amr Hamzawy said via Twitter, halfway through the initial vote count on 17 June, which also indicated a Mursi win.
The current Constituent Assembly was elected last Tuesday by Egypt's parliament, but could well be dissolved after the People's Assembly (the lower house of Egypt's parliament) was made defunct by the SCAF, pursuant to a court ruling that declared a parliamentary election law – which regulated last year's legislative polls – unconstitutional.
The dissolution of parliament's lower house means the SCAF now boasts full legislative and executive authority until a new People's Assembly can be elected.
The SCAF, however, played down the importance of the controversial constitutional document and its legislative powers, saying that the authority of the new president – to whom the military council will relinquish power upon the official announcement of results – will remain untouched.
"The president-elect will assume all the president's rightful powers," said SCAF member General Adel El-Assar at an 18 June press conference. "The legislative [authorities] that the [military] council have are only for a limited period, until a new People's Assembly is elected."
Revolutionary author Alaa El-Aswany had earlier tweeted: "The Constitutional Deceleration is a complete turn against the revolution and it makes the president a mere affiliate of the military council and extends the transitional period indefinitely."
El-Aswany added: "The Constitutional Deceleration blows up the core of democracy. While we object to the fact that the Brotherhood is forming the Constituent Assembly, letting the military council do so is no solution at all."
The SCAF assumed power on an interim basis on 11 February 2011 right after the overthrow of Mubarak, who remained in power for 30 years. The military forced his resignation after 18 days of countrywide protests on 11 February 2011.
Egypt's 2012 presidential elections were the second multi-candidate poll in the country's history. The first multi-candidate presidential poll took place in 2005 and saw then president Hosni Mubarak secure a clear victory, which many observers chalked up to massive vote-rigging by the now-defunct National Democratic Party (NDP).
Mohammed Morsi has won the Egyptian presidential election
Egypt's election commission announced the official results in a televised press conference, naming Muslim Brotherhood candidate Morsi as the first post-revolution president.
The commission chairman also spoke at length on Sunday about the various violations made by voters, including fake identity cards and ballot stuffing. In all cases, the votes were either recounted or disqualified.
In the end, Morsi received over 13 million or 51.7% of the votes, while his main rival, former Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq, got 48.27 percent.
A huge crowd of Morsi's supporters, who were waiting for the announcement on Tahrir Square, erupted into cheers and chants as the result was read.
Morsi is an American-educated engineer who received his Ph.D at the University of Southern California. He was an MP from 2000 till 2005, elected as an independent candidate because the Muslim Brotherhood was banned from running for parliament when Hosni Mubarak was in office. He remained with the Brotherhood until last year, when the Freedom and Justice Party was formed, and Morsi was named a presidential candidate.
The country's new president was to be declared on Thursday, but the announcement was pushed back by the committee to investigate multiple allegations of election fraud.
The delays have given rise to suspicions that the interim military government is using stalling tactics to cling to power. Last week Egypt’s military leaders dissolved parliament and claimed legislative power.
Egyptian protesters wave flags and chant slogans in Cairo's iconic Tahrir Square on June 19, 2012.
‘Shafiq as Egypt’s president, recipe for civil war’
Egypt’s revolutionary political activism group of April 6 Youth Movement has warned of a civil war if Mubarak-era Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq is officially declared the winner of the country’s run-off presidential election, Press TV reports. Meanwhile, Egypt's Supreme Elections Commission said on Wednesday that it would delay the results of the run-off race as it was still reviewing appeals from the participants, the former premier and Mohammed Morsi, the candidate of the Muslim Brotherhood’s political wing, the Freedom and Justice Party.
No specific date has been given for the announcement of the results, which were initially expected on Thursday.
The worrying development has sent thousands of Egyptians back to Cairo's iconic Tahrir Square, where their revolution first began, to protest against the ruling military council.
Both Morsi and Shafiq are claiming victory in the run-off, which was held on June 16 and 17.
An Egyptian NGO, known as Judges for Egypt, said on Wednesday that Morsi has won the run-off, noting that the results did not reflect interference from either candidate's campaign.
The SCAF formally announced the dissolution of the parliament on June 16 following an earlier Supreme Court ruling, assuming full legislative powers.
The Brotherhood, Egypt's largest political party, and the April 6 Youth Movement political activism group protested against the move by the military, calling it a constitutional coup against last year’s revolution.
Under a constitutional declaration issued late on Sunday night, the junta also took control of the state budget and accorded to itself veto power on a new constitution, making the new president almost powerless.
by Shamus Cooke
The Egyptian revolution's fight for life has reached a critical stage. The massive energy that toppled Egypt's hated dictator seems to have hit a wall after Egypt's Supreme Court dissolved parliament in what many are calling a "coup.” The military then took further action to consolidate itself, putting a halt to their fake steps towards democracy. According to the New York Times:
"... the generals had shuttered the parliament and locked out its members, taken over legislative authority even after the election of a president, and unveiled a new interim constitution protecting their power and privilege. They also named their own 100-member panel to draft a permanent charter [constitution]."
The recent winner of the presidential election, the Muslim Brotherhood's Mohamed Morsi, now must operate within the narrow confines allowed by the military, which has seized all legislative power and nearly all real executive power. Martial law remains in effect. The new president has found himself surrounded by military officials who will not allow him to make a single independent decision.
How could this happen?
What the Egyptian revolution has thus far failed to do was to destroy the real basis of the old regime's power, ensuring that the regime would re-consolidate itself. The dictator was toppled, yes, but the institutions that upheld the regime are still in place; the state structures accustomed to a totalitarianism that serves the wealthy elite have finally made their intentions open to the public, now feeling confident that their positions are invulnerable to the revolution.
Consequently, the dictator's inner circle responsible for approving the killing of over 900 innocent protesters will not be imprisoned, nor will the ruthless police chiefs who carried out the orders. This is because the judiciary of the country was appointed by the old regime, and are using every power at their disposal - and creating new ones in the process - to turn the wheel of history backwards to pre-revolution Egypt.
After the dictator-appointed judiciary dissolved parliament, the Muslim Brotherhood's presidential candidate, Mohammed Morsi, downplayed the event, accepting the decision.
"It is my duty as the future president of Egypt, God willing, to separate between the state's authorities and accept the rulings [?!] "
The Brotherhood has vowed to respect "the law,” when the law is merely the military's guns combined with a sock-puppet Supreme Court. The bizarre response of Mr. Morsi is not only a symptom of the Brotherhood's political cowardice, but proof of its collusion with dictators; the Brotherhood is desperately attempting to integrate itself into the ruling spectrum of Egypt's pro-capitalist politics, having accommodated itself to the old regime long enough to eat its crumbs. The new president finds himself in a situation from which any honest person would instantly resign.
Thankfully the Brotherhood's half-hearted "opposition" has been mostly exposed to any half-conscious Egyptian. This fact is proved by the results of the first round of the presidential election: the Brotherhood received half the votes it received from the months-earlier parliamentary election.
Also, during the first round of the presidential election, the largest cities in Egypt voted for the 3rd place candidate, a Nasserite "socialist,” who more closely resembles the striving of the average working person in Egypt. The more recent actions of the Brotherhood have further exposed their leadership for what they are: an unwitting prop for the military to remain in power.
Those who started the revolution and drove out the dictator are still in the process of funneling their revolutionary energy into an organizational form capable of destroying the political and economic power of the rich on which the old regime rests.
Once the revolutionaries re-establish themselves, they'll surely have learned that, in order to push the revolution forward the entire state apparatus of the previous regime must be shattered, especially the military elite, police, and judiciary, who are using their institutional power to strike blows against the revolution.
Equally important is the economic base of the state's power, which also needs to be taken from those who currently control it. Many of Egypt's big businesses are powerful because of their direct connections with the military, and are often owned by generals and their government friends.
The Los Angeles Times recently explained:
"... the [Egyptian] army controls a multibillion-dollar business empire that trades in products not normally associated with men in uniform: olive oil, fertilizer, televisions, laptops, cigarettes, mineral water, poultry, bread and underwear...Estimates suggest that military-connected enterprises account for 10% to 40% of the Egyptian economy. It is an opaque realm of foreign investments, inside deals and privilege that has grown quietly for decades, employing thousands of workers and operating parallel to the army's defense industries."
If the military's wealth isn't nationalized - and much of its wealth comes from recent privatizations of public utilities - the money will continue to fuel the power of dictators.
To reach these goals the revolutionary working people of Egypt need to act independently in massive numbers, as they did at the revolution's beginning. However, this independence needs to be organized enough to fully displace the existing powers of Egypt; the demands of "Mubarak must go" need to be replaced by new demands that address the deeper military and economic ties of the old regime.
To help give voice and organization to these demands, a revolutionary constituent assembly will likely remain a popular and necessary demand, so that a really democratic constitution can be created with the active participation of all working people. The demand for a constituent assembly has proved to be a revolutionary demand throughout the Latin American revolution, whose situations were very similar to Egypt's today.
The electoral process of Egypt has been proven a sham, and the working people will not so easily accept the same dictatorship with a slightly different face. Since the election failed to solve anything of substance, Tahrir Square will once again be the political venue of choice for working Egyptians seeking revolutionary political and economic change.
is a social service worker, trade unionist, and writer for Workers Action (www.workerscompass.org) He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Egyptians call for million-man march
Fri Nov 25, 2011 2:31AM GMT
Fireworks light up the sky above Cairo's Tahrir Square during protests against Egypt's military rulers late on November 24, 2011.
Protesters against Egypt's military rulers continue to occupy Cairo's main Tahrir Square, calling this time for a million-man march.
They piled up pressure on the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) with an overwhelming show of people power on Friday, Reuters reported.
About a week of continued protests saw the Army killing 41 people in its confrontations with the outraged public.
Large numbers of demonstrators spent Thursday night in the square ahead of the mass rally planned to take place after the Friday Prayers.
Pro-democracy protesters said Friday was the last chance for the ruling junta to hand over power to a civilian power structure and return to the barracks.
In addition, the Egyptian Independent Trade Union Federation called for a workers' march to the square and a labor rights group called for a general strike to back the protests.
Earlier in the day, former Egyptian Prime Minister Kamal Ganzouri accepted a request from the military rulers to form a transitional government.
Ganzouri said that he had agreed to lead a national salvation government after meeting with the head of SCAF Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi.
After the popular revolution that toppled former Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak in February, Ganzuri publically distanced himself from his former higher-up -- a move that tipped him as a potential candidate to lead the transitional government.
Caretaker Prime Minister Essam Sharaf and his cabinet resigned on Monday after three consecutive days of protests in Tahrir Square against SCAF's refusal to hand over power to a civilian government.
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