Egypt: New power struggle as Morsi sworn in

July 8, 2012

Mohamed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood candidate for Egypt's presidential elections, was sworn into office on June 30. But confirmation of Morsi's win was overshadowed by protests and sit-ins at Cairo's Tahrir Square and around the country.

Protesters are demanding the elected parliament be restored and extra constitutional powers the ruling junta has granted itself be rescinded.

The electoral comission announced on June 24 that Morsi had beaten old-regime candidate Ahmed Shafiq in the June 16 and 17 poll with 51.7% of the vote.

Morsi swore the oath before Egypt's High Consitutional Court. On June 14, the court had declared the law regulating last year's parliamentary elections, in which the Muslim Brotherhood won close to half the seats, was unconstitutional.

Egypt's ruling Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF), which took control after a mass uprising forced dictator Hosni Mubarak from power, used the ruling to declare the elected parliament dissolved on June 17.

SCAF granted itself several powers and oversights previously granted to the office of the president. This includes power to dissolve and appoint a constituent assembly to draft a new constitution.

The Muslim Brotherhood called on its supporters to join the protests that had broken out in protest at these moves on June 22, demanding the military respect Morsi's win.

However, High Constitutional Court Judge Tahani El-Gebaly told al-Ahram that Morsi was bound to accept the addendum after taking oath before the court.

An AFP report quoted Morsi as saying there would be "no Islamisation of state institutions" during his presidency. Morsi has said his vision of Egypt was for a "democratic, modern and constitutional state".

Morsi said he would "stand with the Palestinian people until they regain all their rights".

Egypt's military receives billions of dollars of aid from the US government annually. A key concern of US commentators has been the potential for the new regime to break the 1979 peace treaty between Egypt and Israel, brokered at Camp David in the US.

However, the Constitutional Declaration declared the SCAF has sole authority over military matters and is the only body which can declare a state of war.

After taking office, Morsi began accepting protesters into his office to hear their grievances. On July 4, it was announced a group of protesting public-sector teachers, demanding permanent full-time contracts, had their demands granted by Morsi.

However, protesters demanding an end to military trials of civilians and the release of political prisoners were prevented from entering the presidential palace, reported Al Arabiya on July 4.

General Adel Al-Morsi, head of the Military Judiciary Authority, was reported by Daily News Egypt as saying that no "political prisoners" were facing military trials, only "criminals".

He also said responsibility lay with the president to pardon any charged by military courts.

Morsi, who officially resigned from the Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party after election results were announced, called for supporters to take to Tahrir on June 29 for the "Friday of the transfer of power". Protesters chanted "Down with the power of the military", AFP said.

However, Egypt Independent reported on July 2 that Mostafa al-Ghoneimy, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Guidance Bureau, said they would no longer be supporting the Tahrir sit-in.

Sayed al-Nazily, a member of the Brotherhood Shura Council, said members were instructed to continue the sit-in until a July 9 challenge to the ruling which dissolved parliament.

Ahram Online's Yasmine Wali said on July 3 that the Square was almost empty, with only a handful of Brotherhood supporters remaining. Other activist groups, such as the April 6 Youth Movement, also suspended their involvement in Tahrir.

As the struggle between the SCAF and Morsi for control of the state apparatus unfolds, it seems clear that, despite the hopes of many, Tahrir's revolutionaries still need to take to the streets to win their demands.

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