Morsi responds to Egypt parliament’s dissolution

In light of what former Muslim Brotherhood leader and former presidential candidate Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh called a coup earlier today, the Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate Mohammed Morsi has responded to today’s events with, let’s say, somewhat different postures, just a little over 24 hours before Egyptians head to the polls for the presidential runoff.

He is now at a press conference wrapping himself in the mantle of the revolution — apparently claiming the felool are trying to undermine the popular will, comparing them to a bone disease that Egyptian voters will wipe out in this weekend’s runoff.  He stopped short of calling the Supreme Constitutional Court’s decision to dissolve Egypt’s parliament a coup.

Earlier today, however, Morsi responded in a way that suggests less urgency than you might expect.

Egyptian presidential candidate Mohammed Morsi gave an interview on Dream 2 on Thursday evening.

“I don’t consider this a military coup,” he said, responding to a question about the Constitutional Court’s decision to dismiss the entire parliament. “I love the military forces,” he said.

That’s not exactly going to endear Morsi to the Egyptians who, already very reluctantly, see him as the only thing standing between a full counter-revolution that would enshrine his opponent, Ahmed Shafiq, a former Air Force commander and Mubarak’s last prime minister, as president, with no constitution and no parliament, with the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces now asserting its control over parliamentary powers and re-introducing elements of emergency law.

Morsi and the Brotherhood confirmed that Morsi will not withdraw from the race, which threatens to be overshadowed by Thursday’s ruling by the Supreme Constitutional Court that invalidated the election of one-third of the parliamentary seats and seemed poised to launch yet another set of elections for Egypt’s parliament.  Protesters have already arrived at Tahrir Square.

Meanwhile, Mohammed ElBaradei, a respected secular elder statesman and former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, who withdrew from the presidential election in protest late last year and who has called for boycotting the race, said that the SCAF should postpone this weekend’s presidential runoff.

One potential reason for Morsi’s relative calm? Al Ahram suggested yesterday that the SCAF and the Brotherhood have been privately discussing post-election scenarios, and also suggests that the recent breakthrough on the Constituent Assembly (the group that will write Egypt’s constitution) can be chalked up to these negotiations:

Government and Muslim Brotherhood sources have both confirmed that talks have been taking place between Egypt’s ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) and the Brotherhood within recent days with the aim of discussing post-election cooperation.

At one of the meetings, sources said, Brotherhood second-in-command Khairat El-Shater met with his SCAF counterpart Sami Anan. Other contacts have reportedly included phone calls and wider meetings.

Talks are reportedly aimed at fostering cooperation between the two sides on a range of issues, including management of the state following the election of Egypt’s next president.

These consultations, according to one Muslim Brotherhood source, “have been very useful in settling ongoing disagreements over the composition of the Constituent Assembly,” which is responsible for drafting a new constitution.

The Brotherhood sources, which seem to come not from Morsi’s camp, indicate that the group expects a Shafiq win on Sunday:

“Deep down, nobody is expecting Mursi to win; it has become very clear that the SCAF is supporting Shafiq,” said a Muslim Brotherhood source. “We don’t want to get into a confrontation, but we want to make sure that Shafiq won’t be running the state in the absence of revolutionary forces – this is why we want a strong presence in the next government.”

A former associate of El-Shater who previously defected from the Brotherhood told Ahram Online: “Khairat El-Shater is a realistic and pragmatic man. He knows that Mursi’s electoral prospects are slim, and that the chances of the Brotherhood making its presence felt will be much better if it comes via the government rather than the presidency, in which case Mursi would be confronted by all top state bodies, including the SCAF itself.”

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