Egyptian Election Outcome Uncertain, SCAF Issues Constitutional Decree
June 20, 2012
By: Garrett Nada | Printer Friendly
Egyptians finished their second day of voting in the presidential runoff election on June 17. Al Jazeera reported that early the following morning, Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood announced his victory, citing his campaign’s unofficial tally, which had him narrowly beating Ahmed Shafiq with 12.7 million votes, or about 52.5 percent of the total vote. Shafiq, deposed Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s last Prime Minister, rejected the Brotherhood’s claim and accused Morsi of attempting to “usurp” the presidency. Shafiq’s campaign claimed that he won with about 52 percent of the vote. The official results will not be released until Thursday, June 21.
On June 17, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) released eight amendments in a constitutional decree. The following morning, the SCAF commented on the changes, some of which severely curtail the powers of the president. According to Article 53, the head of the SCAF will act as Commander-in-Chief and Minister of Defense until a new constitution is drafted, and the President can declare war only after receiving the SCAF’s approval. Sameh Ashour, head of SCAF’s Advisory Council, told Al Jazeera that the incoming president’s term would probably be short, and that he would be replaced after the drafting of a new constitution. General Mahdouh Shahin assured the press that the president would still have the power to ratify or reject laws approved by the SCAF. Overall, this development detracts from the importance of the election’s outcome.
The Carter Center monitored the election and released a statement on June 19 expressing “grave concern about the broader political and constitutional context, which calls into question the meaning and purpose of the elections.” Carter Center teams were limited in their ability to monitor the vote and the ballot counting and witnessed a limited number of incidences of voter intimidation on the part of the military. Former President Jimmy Carter added that he was “deeply troubled by the undemocratic turn that Egypt has taken.”
Before the SCAF issued its constitutional decree, Egyptians were already frustrated over last week’s disbanding of parliament. On June 14, just days before the runoff presidential election, Egypt’s High Constitutional Court declared the Parliamentary Elections Law unconstitutional, leading to the dissolving of parliament the following day. Ahram Online reported that in reaction to the SCAF’s newest constitutional additions, members of parliament from the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party and the Salafist Nour Party are planning to hold a sit-in in Tahrir Square to protest what they call the “counter-revolution.” Thousands of Egyptians have flocked to the square to protest the SCAF’s actions this week and to await the results of the election.
On June 18, US Department of State’s Spokesperson Victoria Nuland, delivered the following statement on the situation at the daily press briefing:
We call on the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces to restore popular and international confidence in the democratic transition process by following through on their stated commitments to an inclusive, constitutional drafting process; the timely seating of a democratically elected parliament; and the swift, permanent transfer of power to a civilian government. As the Secretary has said, there can be no going back on the democratic transition, and the United States stands with the Egyptian people in their aspiration to choose their own leaders.
The Muslim Brotherhood seems to be preparing for a potential confrontation with the military. It has called its supporters to rally in Tahrir Square alongside other pro-democracy activists from the April 6th movement and other groups. At the same time, the organization is filing lawsuits against the SCAF’s constitutional decree and the High Constitutional Court’s decision to dissolve the parliament. The Brotherhood warned in a statement: “The Egyptian people will not stop making sacrifices, and will continue the revolution in order to ensure their sovereignty and prevent the domination of the SCAF and their coup against democracy.”
On June 19, former President Hosni Mubarak went into cardiac arrest and suffered a stroke before his transfer to a military hospital from prison. On June 20, security officials told the Associated Press that Mubarak is still alive but in a coma and on life support. This turn of events has added to the general confusion in Egypt over what will happen next.
For previous news on Egypt, please see:
Egyptian Presidential Candidates Prepare for Runoff Election
Ahram Online - Egypt MPs to convene in Tahrir Square if parliament's doors remain shut
Ahram Online - English text of SCAF amended Egypt Constitutional Declaration
Al Jazeera - Political uncertainty deepens in Egypt
The Associated Press - Worried US tells Egypt's military to cede power
The Los Angeles Times - Egyptian protesters return to Tahrir Square to fight military rule
The New York Times - Official Silence on Mubarak’s Health Adds to Egypt’s Tension
The Telegraph - Egypt: Muslim Brotherhood supporters rejoice in election victory
US Department of State - June 18, 2012 Daily Press Briefing