Over the weekend, Egypt held its second round of presidential elections. While former prime minister and General Ahmed Shafiq has contested the preliminary results, two respected Egyptian news organizations (here and here) announced that his rival in the contest, Muslim Brotherhood member Mohammed Morsi, has won the presidency.
However, Morsi will walk into a position bereft of power. The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces’ (SCAF) constitutional declaration has ensured that the next president will only be the president of Egypt in name only.
The text of the declaration is fairly clear about denuding the new president. The new president has no control whatsoever over the SCAF, or even the military. Indeed, SCAF can even declare war without input from the president. Further, the constitutional declaration gives SCAF the power to create a new constituent assembly and gives the head of SCAF, General Tantawi, the ability to overturn any articles of the assembly with which he disagrees.
As if to buttress the idea SCAF is in charge, it has decided to reconvene the National Defense Council, which is convened in times of emergency, but which has not met since Mubarak was ousted. Although headed by the president, 10 of the 16 members of the council will be SCAF members.
The Muslim Brotherhood, for its part, has gone on the offensive. The organization has said it will join mass protests against the constitutional declaration on Tuesday, while former Parliament Speaker Saad al-Katatni called the dissolution of parliament unconstitutional, and Morsi’s campaign vowed that he will hold the full powers of the presidency.
The SCAF insists that it will hand over power to a new president at the end of June. As SCAF will still retain the powers of parliament, to create a constituent assembly, and most of the powers of the president, it begs the question of what exactly they are handing over other than a title.
While there has been ample evidence that the SCAF and Muslim Brotherhood have been in talks over post-election cooperation, a clash between the two now looks inevitable. The conflict has already gotten so heated, there is an argument over where the president will take the oath of office. What will happen next is anyone’s guess, but the SCAF still retains the upper hand.