Events have been moving quite rapidly in Egypt over the past two days as the initial count of the presidential runoff have taken place, and there’s been no shortage of media coverage as the story continues to unfold.
In the immediate aftermath of the race, Mohammed Morsi, the candidate of the Freedom and Justice Party, the political wing of the Muslim Brotherhood, declared victory on the strength of the Brotherhood’s tallies and the unofficial vote count that showed Morsi leading 52.5% to 4.7.5% over Ahmed Shafiq, his opponent, a former Air Force commander and the final prime minister of former president Hosni Mubarak, representing the ‘felool‘ (remnants) of the old regime.
Shafiq, however, backed by what remains of the technically-illegal National Democratic Party and viewed very much as the favored candidate of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, declared victory himself on Tuesday, throwing the result into further doubt.
The next step was supposed to be the announcement of final results on Thursday. But on Tuesday, the President Elections Commission announced that it might wait until after Thursday to announce the full results.
- Mubarak may or may not have died Tuesday, less than two weeks after being given a life sentence for his role in killing protesters in Tahrir Square in February 2011.
- On Tuesday, the State Council Administrative Court adjourned a lawsuit that could result in the dissolution of the Muslim Brotherhood.
- Also on Tuesday, Tahrir Square started refilling with protesters in earnest, appalled at what appears to be a ‘soft coup’ by SCAF to remain in power.
- On Monday, SCAF undauntedly announced that it is reviving the National Defense Council, which convenes only in times of crisis (it last met during the days of Mubarak’s ouster in February 2011).
- On Sunday, as two days of voting were finishing throughout the country in the presidential runoff, SCAF published amendments to the Constitutional Declaration announced in March 2011 — among other things, SCAF has granted itself the right to assume parliamentary powers, the right to approve the state budget, the right to veto the president’s decisions about declaring war and the right to intrude on the constitution-writing process. Morsi and liberal opponents alike both rejected SCAF’s move.
- Last week, SCAF announced that it would be able to arrest Egyptian citizens for any violation, in part re-introducing much of the ’emergency law’ that it had lifted just two weeks prior.
- Last Thursday, the Egyptian Supreme Constitutional Court (itself composed of appointees from the Mubarak era), not only upheld Shafiq’s right to vote (it ruled unconstitutional the Political Isolation Law, which bans certain former Mubarak officials from running for office for 10 years) but invalidated the election of the People’s Assembly on a legal technicality, transferring parliamentary powers to SCAF and mandating new elections. The Muslim Brotherhood held 235 seats in the 508-seat parliament, with the Salafist Al-Nour Party controlling another 121 seats, after the January 2012 election, which itself was the second attempt at legislative elections in Egypt, after an aborted attempt in late 2010. SCAF has now moved to blocking entrance to parliament by force.
- The ruling has put into doubt a deal — struck itself less than two weeks ago — to appoint a Constituent Assembly, the body that will write Egypt’s new constitution. The deal, approved by parliament but not yet approved by SCAF, would have resulted in a 50-50 split between Islamists and non-Islamists. SCAF has said that, for now, the deal will stand, but that it will reserve the right to intervene if the group encounters “obstacles.”
So it’s a fast-moving situation, and it seems clear that SCAF is working hard to limit the Brotherhood from taking full control of the country by any means possible (even though it was reported last week that SCAF and the Brotherhood were discussing coordination of powers in the event of a Morsi victory). Recall that last month, former Mubarak intelligence chief Omar Suleiman, the Muslim Brotherhood’s initial presidential candidate Khairat al-Shater and popular Salafist preacher Hazem Abu Ismail candidate were all disqualified, completely reshaping the presidential race.
Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood, however, are already discussing potential cabinet appointees:
The sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, also denied that Khairat al-Shater, the Brotherhood’s influential deputy supreme guide, would play a role in forming the next government, but said that he would hold a dialogue about Mohamed Morsy’s Renaissance Project to finalize it and present it to the government.
According to the sources, prominent figures being considered are: Ahmed Maher from the April 6 Youth Movement, activist Wael Ghonim, Salafi Nour Party spokesperson Nader Bakkar, certain members of the Hamdeen Sabbahi presidential campaign, former Independent MP Amr Hamzawy, Cairo University Professor Moataz Abdel Fattah and attorney Noha al-Zeiny.
But it’s becoming increasingly unclear that Morsi will even have that chance or if Egypt will quite truly know who’s won what was supposed to be its first free and fair presidential election.