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Civilian president, military power: what does SCAF want?
The constitutional annex issued by Egypt's ruling military council raises questions about the role of the next president and the army in post-transition arrangements
Ahmed Eleiba , Thursday 21 Jun 2012
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Tahrir Square
Protesters chant slogans against the military council at Tahrir Square in Cairo (Photo: Reuters)

The ruling military council’s recent addendum to the March 2011 Constitutional Declaration sparked uproar across Egypt’s political spectrum, not just from the Brotherhood who is claiming presidential victory for their candidate Mohamed Morsi. Many claim that the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), successfully curbed the presidential authorities, but is it true?

In the press conference held Tuesday, SCAF member Major General Mamdouh Shahin strove to assure the public that the president still enjoys full powers. However some of his remarks appeared to contradict the text of the “complementary declaration,” as the military called its recent addition to the country’s political landscape.

Sobhi Saleh, a Brotherhood figure who was one of those who authored the main body of the Constitutional Declaration, lashed out at what he saw as an attempt by the SCAF to appropriate power:

“The addendum is neither a declaration nor constitutional but an undisguised attempt by the military to grab power.”

Saleh, who criticised every amended clause without exception, said that the SCAF is not only undermining the presidency but skewing the country’s political process. The Brotherhood, he said, is consulting with other political groups to formulate an appropriate response.

Military analyst Saftat El-Zayyat concurred with Saleh’s assessment, saying that the addendum robs the president of all power. Shahin’s claim that the president has extensive powers is simply untrue.

“We cannot have a modern civilian state if the military keeps acting as it does. In a civilian state the civilians rule over the military, not the other way around,” El-Zayaat explained. “The addendum will have the president seeking permission before making a decision."

“Across the world, the president has the power to declare war and decide on matters of national security but these powers have now been curtailed in Egypt’s case,” he remarked.

According to El-Zayyat, the SCAF has gone back on its earlier promises that the army will not keep more powers than those mentioned in the 1971 constitution, as the powers now exceed the now-defunct constitution. Accordingly, a power struggle between the SCAF and civilian politicians is inevitable.

The elected president is in a stronger position than the SCAF, because he has more legitimacy, El-Zayyat added.

The 1971 constitution grants the president 35 specific powers, constituting nearly 63 per cent of all governmental powers. The same constitution grants the parliament 14 powers, or 25 per cent of the government’s powers. Now that the SCAF is assuming the role of the parliament and carving off part of the president’s powers, it is in an unprecedented position of political dominance.

The SCAF has stripped the president of most of his powers and has also deprived the him of the power to call parliamentary elections.

Brotherhood officials see the recent SCAF move as a coup, saying that the SCAF is clearly refusing to hand over power to civilians, despite earlier pledges to do so by the end of June.

The SCAF, Brotherhood officials maintain, is acting in a manner that may trigger another revolution.

Political analyst Salah Eissa disagrees with this assessment, saying that the addendum is short-term and that within three months, a new parliament will be in place. The powers of the president, Eissa argues, are adequate for running the civilian administration.

Speaking off the record, a source close to the SCAF said the addendum was not directed at curbing the powers of the Brotherhood specifically, but was going to pass regardless of who won the presidency.

The source admitted, however, that the SCAF was shielding the army from presidential powers in fear that the Brotherhood would try to manipulate the army in unpredictable ways.

This situation, he said, is new to the country and will not last for long. Eventually, a new constitution will come into place and will define the relation between government branches in a more orderly fashion.





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Dr Gamal Elbaz
24-06-2012 03:43pm
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Democracy in Practice?
I invite Egyptians to consider quietly the following: 1)Stable democracy is established in France since 1958 this means 169 yeas after the revolution of 1789. 2)There is no known democracy immediately after any revolution. You cannot change a generalized corruption to generalized justice in a few years 3)French people have cut the relationship between the church and the state in 1905 precisely 116 after 1789. 4)Consider Japan and Germany where reconstructions after complete war destructions were the fastest: no religious bases were used by their governments, only their highest organisation capabilities. 5)Look how Turkey is going forward economically and socially. Nobody describes the others to be good muslims or bad ones 6)Great Britain, the most stable democracy, has no constitution!7)Ideally, power should not be concentrated in Egypt by any organization; it should be shared to progress to democratic maturity 8)Egypt needs urgently: a.Justice, b.Security, c.Education, d.Reforming all
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6



Abi
22-06-2012 05:48am
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Well done SCAF!
It is rather refreshing to hear such intelligent comments from some of your readers. The truth of the matter is the the leaders of the Moslem Brotherhood movement are Hungary for power. In fact they are arrogant enough to declare their own candidate a winner rather than waiting for the official result to be announced. The army has to be vigilant and should ensure that the constitution be observed and not manipulated by anyone regardless of their political or their religious beliefs
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5



Ibrahim
22-06-2012 12:18am
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Democracy
Egypt will never be a democracy until seculars care more about democracy than unadulterated (and irrational) hatred of Islamists.
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4



Soldier
22-06-2012 12:07am
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ignorat hater
I think the author is lying as if breathing. His angry outburst against the Ikwan seems to be a product of hate and ignorance.
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3



Hossam
21-06-2012 09:18pm
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Dissapointed
Are you kidding me?? Islamists have never ruled before?? of course they have?? Why do you think we are still struggling with corruption and a backward society?? Lets be honest...didn't Egyptians live a better life under English occupancy?? aren't we doing ourselves more hard by fighting for "freedom" ...the term "Muslim Brotherhood" already declares that it only serves the brotherhood, meaning it can never be secular unless everyone A becomes a Muslim and B join the brotherhood...this goes against everything freedom and revolutionary fighters stand for...disappointing!
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Kristine
22-06-2012 08:09am
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Disapointed
i agree with you. well said! it is time for the people of egypt to open their eyes to the truth about what the muslim brotherhood is all about!
James Molay
21-06-2012 10:38pm
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The Good Old Days
True, Egypt was best off under English hegemony. Among other things the English established a liberal parliamentary democracy (ever heard of the Wafd and of Saad Zaghloul and Nahas?) - which was undermined by a campaign of assassinations by the Muslim Brotherhood and was finally destroyed by Gamal Abdel Nasser who replaced it with a police state.
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Lucas Vanderhei
21-06-2012 09:04pm
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Butchers
Those of us who are old enough to remember the AUC bombings and the Hatchepsut slaughter and the murder of Greek tourists, years of assassinations, including the attempt on Nasser, the death of Sadat, the stabbing of Mahfouz and dozens more are under no illusions that this is a kinder, gentler brotherhood. This is the movement that produced Hamas. This comes from the deranged mind of Hassan al-Banna. This is taking a country standing in the doorway towards modernization and throwing them backwards. It's a disaster for Egypt and the world.
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Stevenson
22-06-2012 12:10am
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More lies from ignorant people
The Ikhwan were never involved in these terrorist acts, ans the attempt on Nasser was concocted by Nasser's own intelligence so that he could use to crack down on them, which he did
James Molay
21-06-2012 09:40pm
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Brotherhood Butchers
Absolutely true. The Muslim Brotherhood are religious fanatics and bigots, men of violence and death, whatever lipstick and breast implants they happen to be wearing at the moment to make themselves look good to Hollywood. Anything is better than the Brotherhood which will drive Egypt back to the Middle Ages and into the depths of a tyranny it has never known before.
Ismail
21-06-2012 09:29pm
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Butcher
These are the same decades all arguments...we are now fed up with this rubish "General's and Dictator's Language.....No more Army rule..no more dictorship...Army are servents not rulers...they are feeding on our taxes..they have not right to rule
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James Molay
21-06-2012 07:12pm
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Better the Army
Better the Army than the Brotherhood. With the Army there is a political way forward to a civil society. With the Islamists Egypt moves backwards into the Middle Ages.
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Gigi
22-06-2012 11:30am
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Hector you have proved James' point
You have confirmed everything that James has said by your one comment relating to being a Copt.
Tony
22-06-2012 01:22am
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The Army is the same devil like the Brotherhood
The SCAF wants Egypt to become a Burmese-style stratocracy....this is not what the Revolution called for. The SCAF is the same opposite devil like the Brotherhood, except they're not clerics and are not calling for Sharia law.
James Molay
21-06-2012 11:14pm
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Reply to Hector M
The army has not ruled for three decades. It has ruled for six decades - since Nasser's putsch. Before that Egypt enjoyed a parliamentary democracy with elected legislators and such famous prime ministers as Nahas and Saad Zaghloul. Yes, there was a monarchy, but it was a constitutional monarchy with limited powers; parliament and the prime minister were the dominant poliitical power. But why support the army now? Because the events of January 2011 are the first step towards the construction of a secular civil society, and it is only through a secular civil society that Egypt can gain a fair and prosperous future. The Islamists are by definition against a secular civil society and will do everything to prevent it. But the army will permit its growth, even if only reluctantly. Therefore the construction of a civil society working with the army is Egypt's best bet for its future.
Faraz
21-06-2012 08:14pm
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Better the Army
You think egyptions are fool their struggle was to bring the same corrupt generals who are robbing this nation for last several decades..??? if you are egyption then shame on you
Hector M
21-06-2012 08:05pm
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Reply to James Molay
James, how can you say that Better the Army than the Brotherhood. With the Army there is a political way forward to a civil society. With the Islamists Egypt moves backwards into the Middle Ages. Army has ruled for 3 decades, and it was always backward in worst condition. While Islamist never ruled before and your ignorant pea size brain spits hatred against MB. MB talent never been tested. I think you are bone haed and must be tiny minority Copts.

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