- Posted June 17, 2012 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
The Mideast Watch - After Arab Spring Egypt Votes
Saturday and Sunday, Egyptians have filed to the polls to elect the first democratically selected president since last year's Arab Spring uprising which overthrew the over 3-decade rule of Hosni Mubarak. Voters were choosing a hold-over from the Mubarak or a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood.
As Egyptians cast ballots the military command which has ruled the nation since the overthrow and leading up to the election issued a temporary Constitution to guide the nation until a constitutional convention could be gathered to write a new Constitution. Two attempts for the convention have failed so far.
As Egyptians voted in a second day of elections for a successor to Hosni Mubarak, the ruling military issued an interim constitution Sunday defining the new president's authorities, a move that sharpened the confrontation with the Muslim Brotherhood and showed how the generals will maintain the lion's share of power no matter who wins.
With parliament dissolved and martial law effectively in force, the generals granted themselves considerable authorities. They will be the country's lawmakers, control the budget and will control who writes the permanent constitution that will define the country's future.
A significant question will be how their relationship will be with the new president who emerges from the Saturday-Sunday runoff between Ahmad Shafiq, Mubarak's former prime minister, and conservative Islamist Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood.
"If it happens that they announce he (Shafiq) is the winner, then there is forgery," said Brotherhood spokesman Murad Mohammed Ali. "We will return to the streets" _ though he added, "we don't believe in violence."
Shafiq, who is a former air force commander, is seen as the generals' favorite in the contest and would likely work closely with them. So closely that his opponents fear the result will be a continuation of the military-backed, authoritarian police state that Mubarak ran for nearly 29 years.
A victory by his opponent, the conservative Islamist Mohammed Morsi, could translate into a rockier tussle over spheres of power between his Muslim Brotherhood and the military.
The Muslim Brotherhood movement in Egypt is fighting for political survival against the country's military rulers, resisting the military's attempts to dissolve the parliament and urging voters to back the Brotherhood's man for president on this second day of voting.
Relatively few Egyptians appear to be turning out to cast ballots as the Brotherhood’s presidential candidate, Mohamed Morsi, faces former military man Ahmed Shafiq in a race that has high stakes for the Brotherhood. If Mr. Shafiq wins, many in the once-banned organization fear a return to the days of ousted President Hosni Mubarak, when Brotherhood members were often arrested in their homes and detained for years.
The Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) said in a statement Saturday evening that the military has no right to order the dissolution of parliament, and such a decision can only come through a national referendum. The statement is a challenge to the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), the military generals ruling Egypt, who said a Thursday court ruling means the parliament is null. The generals have sent soldiers to the assembly building who are refusing to allow members of parliament to enter.
“The constant threat to dissolve a parliament elected by the will of 30 million Egyptians confirms the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces’ desire for a total power grab against the popular will,” said the FJP in a statement that called the ruling a “blatant attack on the great Egyptian revolution.”
The SCAF’s decision is based on a ruling by Egypt’s Supreme Constitutional Court Thursday that the law governing the parliamentary elections, which ended in January, erred when it allowed parties to contest the seats reserved for independents.
Coming after months of threats of parliament dissolution by the SCAF-appointed government to the Brotherhood, and from a court full of Mubarak-appointed justices, the ruling is seen by many in Egypt as politicized. It has increased the power of the military, and hurt the Brotherhood, whose party held about half the seats in parliament and had used that position to secure a solid hold on a committee elected to write Egypt’s new constitution. The military has now indicated it will appoint a new constitutional committee.
The outcome of the election could have serious consequences for relations with Israel. Depending on the outcome, it could place tension and strain on how the US deals with the new government as well.
Egypt is one of the recipient of one of the largest foreign aid from the US of A. Only Israel receives more aid.
From the Cornfield, will the Arab Spring come to a peaceful conclusion as a new president is elected?
Will the outcome of the Egyptian election signal concern on a 2nd Arab Spring?
Depending on the outcome, how could this affect President Barack Obama's re-election campaign, if the US is forced to choose between Israel and Egypt?