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Last week, SCAF issued a decree giving the military the power to arrest civilians under broad terms. If the military feels that you are inhibiting the flow of traffic, such as by protesting, you can be placed under arrest. If the military feels you are hurting the economy, such as by going on strike, you can be placed under arrest.
The Supreme Constitutional Court, staffed by judges chosen under the Mubarak regime, then dissolved the entire parliament. The given reason was that the one-third that was supposed to go solely to independents competing in winner-takes-all races went to party members that were technically independents only because they just didn’t run under their party’s banner. The rest of the parliament was chosen based on the proportion of the vote won by the party lists. The Court also overturned a rule passed by the Islamist-led parliament that former high-level regime officials like Shafiq couldn’t hold office.
“The makeup of the entire chamber is illegal and, consequently, it does not legally stand,” the Court said. The Muslim Brotherhood declared that a “full-fledged coup” had taken place. There is no possibility for appeal because it is the court with the highest authority in Egypt.
This means that full legislative powers are in the hands of the SCAF. The generals will control the budget and will soon pick the 100-person assembly to draft the next constitution under their direction. Once the new constitution is written, it must be approved in a referendum within three months. Only then can new parliamentary elections take place, which isn’t expected to happen any earlier than December. SCAF says it is still committed to handing power over to the chosen president by July, but SCAF gets to decide how much power he’ll actually have.
SCAF has the power to accept the legitimate election results or to declare the victor that it wants. It seems to be preparing the ground to invalidate Morsi’s victory. SCAF may give the presidency to the Muslim Brotherhood in order to maintain the façade of a balance of powers and to appease its main rival while shutting out genuinely secular-democratic voices. On the other hand, SCAF may be unwilling to give up even a thimble-like amount of power. If that’s the case, then Shafiq gets the presidency.
Don’t put too much emphasis on who officially wins the Egyptian presidency on Thursday. Unlike Tunisia and Libya, regime change didn’t happen in Egypt. It was a reshuffling of regime leadership. SCAF will be writing the next constitution. The future of Egypt is in the hands of the generals, just as it was before the Arab Spring.
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