Egypt military council to transfer power to new president

[JURIST] The Egyptian Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) [NYT backgrounder] announced on Monday that it will transfer power to the newly elected president by the end of this month, according to Egypt's official news agency. The polls closed on Sunday and the winner of the presidential runoff will be officially announced on Thursday. The Muslim Brotherhood [party website] claimed that the unofficial result of the vote showed that its candidate Mohammed Mursi won the election by 52 percent, 4 percent more than his opponent, Ahmed Shafiq [BBC backgrounders]. The SCAF stated that the new president will have the power to appoint and dismiss the government. With the announcement, SCAF also issued an interim constitution [Egypt State Information Service report, in Arabic] that retains most of its power. For example, the SCAF maintains the sole authority over the military as well as appointment of its officers and commanders. Although the new president can declare war, he is still subject to SCAF's approval. The interim constitution gives the council also legislative powers until a new parliament is elected. This move was criticized by observers who claim it gives far more power to the council than expected while the president is given only little authority over the state's affairs. A specific date for the transfer of power that will be held in a "grand ceremony" has not yet been released.

Despite the success of a peaceful presidential election on Saturday and Sunday, Egypt has faced continued political turmoil in the wake of last year's overthrow of former president Hosni Mubarak. Last week the Supreme Constitutional Court [official website] of Egypt dissolved [JURIST report] the country's Parliament [official website] because it found that one-third of its members were elected illegally. Thus, the court held that because some of the members of the parliament were elected illegally, the entire body was invalid. While the parliament was dissolved, the military was given more powers. A day earlier the country's Ministry of Justice issued a decree [JURIST report] restoring broad arrest powers to the Egyptian military to arrest civilians for non-military offenses. Also last week, a new panel consisting of 100 members who are tasked with drafting the country's constitution was elected after the formation of the first one deemed unconstitutional [JURIST reports].

 

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