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The first round of elections in Egypt will happen on November 28, but the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces is sending a clear message that it has no intention of giving up power. The military regime wants to decide the future of the country and is clamping down on its opponents, both Islamist and non-Islamist.
The military council has revealed that it wants to have veto power over the draft constitution that the interim government will write. The council says that the constitutional committee chosen by parliament should only have 20 parliamentarians with the military choosing the other 80. The committee is fired if it fails to come up with an acceptable draft constitution within 6 months. It also wants the military budget to remain secret and without oversight. The political parties are furious but according to the Associated Press, “The proposal only requires adoption by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces to make it binding.” In other words, their opinions don’t matter.
The council previously said it would not allow “extremist factions” or “another Khomeini” to come to power. It is making good on its pledge ahead of the November 28 elections. Middle East expert Dr. Barry Rubin, in the wake of the Islamists’ strong performance in Tunisia’s elections, now predicts they will get nearly 50 percent of the vote. The latest poll has the Muslim Brotherhood with 39% of the country’s support, but the non-Islamists do not have a common front and will split the vote, handing victories to the Islamists in districts they otherwise could not win. Furthermore, Islamist turnout is very strong as they believe they are religiously obligated to participate.
The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces blocked al-Gamaa al-Islamiyya from forming a political party and banned the use of religious slogans in campaigns, spurring the ire of the Muslim Brotherhood, which had to change its slogan from “Islam is the solution” to “We bring good for Egypt.”
The military council is undermining the secularists, as well as the Islamists. It just ruled that Ayman Nour, a secularist who previously competed against President Mubarak, cannot run for president because of his prior convictions. In 2005, the Mubarak regime had him arrested and convicted on trumpeted-up corruption charges. He was accused of forging the signatures he required to form his political party. He was eventually released under U.S. pressure. State television is meanwhile promoting a positive image of the chairman of the SCAF, Mohamed Hussein Tantawi.
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