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Egypt's new president won't be a cipher, claims ruling junta

Military council denies changes to temporary constitution will keep powers in hands of junta; says move designed to ensure a balance of power between president and legislature

Ahram Online, Monday 18 Jun 2012
Mamdouh Shahin
Member of the SCAF Mamdouh Shahin (Photo:Reuters)
Views: 2882
Views: 2882

Changes made to Egypt's temporary constitution on Sunday have not stripped the country's incoming president of powers, Major Mamdouh Shahin of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) said at a press conference Monday.

In addition, he said that the president would be able to veto laws issued by the legislature, which is under the SCAF's control since parliament was dissolved by a court decision on Thursday.

Sunday's addendum to the March 2011 Constitutional Declaration was designed to guarantee that no single person had both legislative and executive authority, Shahin claimed.

The Muslim Brotherhood is the largest party in parliament and its candidate, Mohamed Morsi, won the presidential election runoff according to unofficial results.

The SCAF cannot pass laws except with the president's approval and the addendum would ensure a balance of power, Shahin said.      

Furthermore, Shahin denied that the SCAF had the authority to interfere in state affairs because Article 53 of the declaration only gives the SCAF authority over the armed forces.

It was natural that the addendum specified that war can only be declared by a consensus between the president and the armed forces, he added.

Shahin said internal security was the responsibility of the interior ministry but Article 53 of the declaration gives the military the right to maintain internal security if asked to do so by the president.

He added that because the Emergency Law had recently been lifted, the justice ministry had granted the military the right to arrest civilians. This right is regulated by parliament and permitted by the president, he said.

Shahin claimed that Article 60 of the declaration, which allows the SCAF to form a new constituent assembly if the current one is declared null and void, would prevent a constitutional vacuum.

It is unclear whether the newly-formed constituent assembly is still constitutionally valid, as it contains members of the now-dissolved parliament.

The addendum to the Constitutional Declaration was published in the official gazette on Sunday, as the presidential electoral results were being released. Many Egyptians condemned the addendum as a "soft military coup."

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