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Egypt: tensions grow between Islamists and military junta

Monday, June 18, 2012

Konstantin Garibov .

Photo: EPA 

The Muslim Brotherhood has said its candidate, Mohammed Mursi, has won Sunday’s presidential run-off. His rival, independent candidate Ahmed Shafiq has not recognized defeat.
Egypt’s election commission says it will release the final results on Thursday, June 21, if all complaints filed by candidates are investigated by that time. Meanwhile, the results have been released only by Mursi`s headquarters, saying that he got nearly 53% of the vote, while Shafiq won about 47%. A spokesman for Shafiq shortly denied this information without, however, reporting their data. Nobody else has confirmed the aforementioned figures.

In case Mursi wins he will become Egypt`s first Islamist president, who, above all this, lacks military background. The country’s military junta has given it to understand, though, that it won`t hand over power without a fight.

On Saturday evening the head of Egypt’s Higher Military Council, Mohamad Hussain Tantawi announced that the parliament was dissolved following the ruling of the Constitutional Court that the 2011 parliamentary elections were unconstitutional. This put an end to the first parliament elected after the 25 January uprising. When the Muslim Brotherhood started celebrating victory on Monday the Higher Military Council took over parliamentary functions, the amendments to the constitution released on June 18 say. The document also states that since the junta has retaken legislative powers they are now responsible for setting up a commission that will deal with a new constitution. New parliamentary elections will be held only after the constitution is adopted – no earlier than in 6 months.

Before the parliament was dissolved the Muslim Brotherhood had 38% share of seats. Partnered by Salafist Al-Nour party (it had 29%) the MB could pass any law without consulting the junta. That is why when learned that the parliament was dissolved they accused the junta of trying to stage a coup and seize power.

Expert at the Centre for Arab Studies Alexei Podtserob believes that if legislative and executive powers had been given to Islamists this would have become a nightmare for the junta.

“Now that the parliament has been dissolved the junta and the MB do not seem to be hiding their conflict any longer. Perhaps, the junta expects the MB to lose in new parliamentary election thus giving way to secular parties. Of course, a lot depends on the results of the presidential elections since Egypt is a presidential republic.”

Now that the central election commission has recognized the victory of Ahmed Shafiq, who is viewed as Mubarak`s associate, tensions between the junta and the Islamists could escalate. It appears that those who expect presidential elections to stop political uncertainty in Egypt could be disappointed.

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Jun 18, 2012