'Full presidential powers without military dominance': Brotherhood's El-Beltagi

Sherif Tarek , Sunday 24 Jun 2012

Mohamed El-Beltagi gives major speech in Tahrir after Morsi presidential win, calls for reinstatement of People's Assembly, cancellation of SCAF's 'constitutional addendum' and return of army to barracks

Tahrir square
Tahrir square (Photo: Mai Shaheen)

Amid wild celebrations on Sunday evening, leading Muslim Brotherhood member, Mohamed El-Beltagi, took the main podium in Tahrir Square to stress that Mohamed Morsi, Egypt's president-elect, must have the highest executive authorities without interference from the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF).

His speech met with loud applause from thousands in the iconic roundabout.

Morsi was named Egypt's new president on Sunday after securing nearly 52 per cent of the votes in the presidential runoffs, according to the announcement of the Supreme Presidential Electoral Commission (SPEC), to beat off competition from his rival Ahmed Shafiq, the last premier to serve under ousted president Hosni Mubarak.

Morsi's victory, however, came shortly after the SCAF, which has assumed power since 11 February 2011 upon the ouster of Mubarak, introduced an annex to the last year's Constitutional Declaration that gave the military unfettered authorities at the expense of the president's, such as the right to form a new constituent assembly tasked with writing the new constitution for the country.

The SCAF, as a military institute, is also completely independent from the president, according to the constitutional declaration which stipulated the military council is solely entitled to appoint all its leaders – including the Defence Minister – and approve any wars.

El-Beltagi says it is the president who should have the upper hand in the country's affairs, even in military-related matters.

"We tell the military council to get back to managing the armed forces; Morsi is leader of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces," he said in an exciting tone. "There is only one executive authority and that rests in the presidency.

"The complementary constitutional declaration is illegitimate, illegitimate" added El-Beltagi, as the crowd feverishly picked up the chant.

Former MP El-Beltagi also stressed the People's Assembly – the lower chamber of the parliament that has been recently dissolved by the SCAF pursuant to a High Constitutional Court ruling  – must be reinstated.

"We want the parliament [the People's Assembly] to be restored and Morsi take oath before it," he said. "No one would leave Tahrir Square until the demands of the revolution are fulfilled," he added.

"But we are not in a confrontation against anyone, we won't disrupt the work of the state institutions but we will not leave Tahrir until the revolution is complete."

The dismantling of the People's Assembly gave legislative authorities to the SACF, and also has escalated threats that the Constituent Assembly will also be dissolved because the latter was elected by both chambers of the Islamist-dominated parliament.

One of the controversial decision the SCAF has made of late was issuing a decree authorising military-intelligence officers and military-police officers to arrest civilians, a right previously reserved for police officers alone.

"We don't need this military authorisation decree," El-Beltagi told roaring crowds in Tahrir, echoing sentiment by other critics who are convinced the decree is equivalent to the return of Mubarak-era emergency law.

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