Egypt's Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), which has been in power since the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak in last year’s popular uprising, dismissed accusations on Monday that it was trying to hang on to power, after issuing a declaration on Sunday giving it legislative powers.
The move came as the Muslim Brotherhood's Mohammed Mursi claimed victory in the Presidential election on Monday.
The Masrawi online news portal quoted SCAF member, Major Mamdouh Shahin, as saying that the newly elected president will enjoy “full powers,” while the Council will only retain jurisdiction over legislation. The SCAF statement on Sunday effectively gives it legislative powers, control over the budget and over who writes the permanent constitution.
The declaration was issued the day after the SCAF confirmed the dissolution of parliament dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood following a court ruling that the 2011 parliamentary elections were unconstitutional. The document said new general elections cannot be held until the permanent constitution is drawn up.
Shahin pledged on Monday to conclude the work on the new constitution within four and half months and hold parliamentary elections by the end of 2012, Egyptian media reported.
Opposition groups and several former presidential candidates condemned the Council’s declaration as a grave setback for Egypt’s democracy. The April 6 Youth movement, which played a prominent role in last year’s uprising, said the declaration “turns the new president into a useless figurehead attached to the Military Council” and urged the country’s citizens to oppose a “military coup” in a demonstration on Cairo’s Tahrir Square on Tuesday.
With 100 percent of the votes counted, Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohammed Mursi claimed victory in the Egyptian presidential election, winning 52 percent of the ballots, his campaign headquarters claimed on Monday morning.
The opposing candidate, former Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq, gained 48 percent.
“These are confirmed results, all counted ballots from all voting stations are with written guarantees of the election commissions,” Mursi’s campaign headquarters said.
Mursi’s pre-election campaign website is already adorned with a banner proclaiming “Mohammed Mursi, first elected President of Egypt.”
Egypt’s higher election commission has dismissed the claims by some candidates to have won the election as “too early,” and said it is not responsible for the dissemination by the media of election results. The commission said the formal results would only be known on June 21 after a declaration of the official poll results.
If Mursi’s victory is confirmed, he will be the first president of Egypt representing an Islamic party, and also the first leader of modern Egypt without a military background.
In his pre-election manifesto, Mursi promised that in the event of his election as president, he would resign as the leader of the Freedom and Justice Party.
He also promised to give up Egypt’s tradition of one-man presidential rule, and said he would name deputies, assistants and advisers representing different sectors of Egyptian society.
Mursi won he first round of the election, in no small part due to the mass activism of the Muslim Brotherhood, the largest political movement in the country.
An engineer by profession, Mursi, 60, was educated in the United States. He was elected to parliament several times in the Mubarak era as an independent deputy.
Mursi was initially the back-up candidate for the Freedom and Justice Party.
He emerged as the main candidate after the previous leader, the deputy of the Muslim Brotherhood’s supreme council, Khairat ash-Shatir, withdrew.