As courts side with SCAF, Morsi’s next move is crucial

The Egyptian Supreme Constitutional Court overturned Morsi’s decree to recall Parliament today, seemingly placing power firmly back in the hands of the SCAF. The power struggle is likely far from to over, but the court’s decision does not bode well for Morsi. Thousands gathered in Tahrir to protest this decision, indicating that while the SCAF may have the power in the halls of government buildings, the people of Egypt, whether they supported Morsi or not, do not want to see the first democratically elected head of state rendered powerless days after his election.

Sadly, the ruling didn’t actually resolve anything. Power is not intractably in the hands of the SCAF, nor is Morsi (in all liklehood) going to sit back and allow his decree to be trampled. Both the SCAF and Mrosi will likely continue to vie for power and legitimacy, leveraging allies in the courts, the media, and the populace. The only certainty in all this is that more bombastic headlines and swooning declarations are still to come.

For now though the SCAF appears to have shown its hand: it has no intention of allowing Morsi to overturn its rules, nor any intention of ceding actual power to him. It remains to be seen how Morsi will respond.

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Marbury, Madison, MacArthur & Morsi – Egypt’s power struggle and what it means for the young democracy

The past weekend brought a landmark moment in Egypt’s history, as newly elected President Morsi offered a direct challenge to the SCAF’s power by reinstating Parliament, which was dissolved just weeks ago. On Monday, members of Parliament were able to enter the parliament building after having been blocked for nearly a month.

Morsi’s decision represents a direct challenge to the SCAF’s legitimacy and reach of power, and is reminiscent of times in American history, when, as the young country found its way, its military, courts, strong personalities, and branches of government vied for power.

In Marbury vs. Madison, the 1803 Supreme Court decision that established the principal of judicial review, a weak judiciary wrested power from the legislative branch. For the first time, the courts were able to declare an act of Congress unconstitutional. Over a century later, in 1951, President Truman fired General MacArthur for making statements contradicting the administration’s policies, and the nation held its breath to see how the powerful general would react. When the decision was not overturned, Truman’s actions had firmly established the civilian President as Commander-in-Chief.  In Little Rock, Arkansas, only a few years after the MacArthur firing, President Eisenhower deployed federal troops and federalized the Arkansas National Guard to protect nine black students as they entered a newly desegregated school. This decision polarized the nation again, as a President used military resources to enforce a controversial new law.

Morsi’s provocation of the SCAF was similarly deliberate. He stated that “The military wants to create a state within a state, keep legislative power and include articles in the future constitution that protects it. That won’t do: either we confront it now or we’ve failed.”

The constitutional court has said that its ruling dissolving Parliament will be upheld, causing additional confusion. The SCAF, which held an emergency meeting after Morsi’s declaration, has not yet commented. It is worth pointing out that some analysts believe the SCAF must have known the announcement was coming, as they would never tolerate such an open and unexpected challenge to their authority.

Whatever the outcome, this situation will help to define the future of governance in Egypt, just as landmark moments like Marbury vs Madison, the MacArthur firing, and the Little Rock 9 did in the US. This is where precedent will be established, and where the public will gain meaningful and actionable insight into the role of the military in this new democracy.  

Only time will tell what precedent this event will set, and what the ultimate outcome will be for Egypt’s power structure. But, given the chaos and uncertainty that faces Egypt’s democracy, one can’t help but think of Winston Churchill’s famous musing: “democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried.”

In post-Mubarak Egypt, this seems all too appropriate.

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All politics is local – Morsi appeals to the Cairo street

Now that Egypt has elected (and inaugurated) its new president, Egypt Elects is continuing to monitor a number of developing stories, including President Morsi’s meeting with Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah al-Khalid al-Hamad al-Sabah – the first foreign official to meet with Morsi since his inauguration. The implications of this meeting speak volumes about Egypt’s regional positioning under a Morsi administration. Egypt Elects is also monitoring the on-going dispute between the Brotherhood and the courts regarding the dissolution of parliament, which continues to escalate following Judge Tahani Al-Gabaly’s recent statement accusing Morsi of violating the constitution by inviting members of parliament to his Cairo University speech on Saturday.  “The president cannot come to power through constitutional legitimacy and then turn against it,” said Al-Gabaly, who is the deputy head of the Supreme Constitutional Court, adding that “[Morsi] is not empowered to cancel the [dissolution of parliament].”

Egypt Elects will continue to monitor these stories as they unfold, but today we wanted to focus on another, perhaps less visible story that caught our attention. President Morsi cancelled all motorcades for his staff, family and other senior officials. The reason? So as to not inconvenience drivers on the streets of Cairo with the awful traffic that is a by-product of motorcades. Rather than travel in a motorcade of security vehicles and motorcycles, Morsi is going to travel like everyone else. As he said: “gone is the time of processions and lined-up security officers.”

The traffic in Cairo ranges on a scale of bad to worse, and improving traffic congestion proved to be a common promise made during the parliamentary and presidential campaigns. Many observers, Egypt Elects included, viewed these promises as nothing more than pandering, but it appears as though we were wrong (or perhaps continue to be right). Morsi’s move is brilliant – he is simultaneously holding true on a campaign promise while also making a grand gesture for the sake of public approval (which he desperately needs because he just did away with much of his security).

Moreover, by positioning himself as a “man of the people”, he is further distancing himself from the SCAF and the ways of the Mubarak era. And the less people see Morsi surrounded by police and the military, the less they will make that association. In fact, any future traffic jams caused by motorcades and security will almost certainly be blamed on the SCAF – another victory for Morsi in his continued power struggle with the military.

By simply shedding some security, Morsi has in effect fortified his standing among the constituencies that helped elect him – the constituencies he will badly need as he continues to vie for additional legitimacy and power. It just goes to show that, in Egypt, all politics is local, and if Morsi can continue to win over the Cairo street, he will be well positioned for a successful presidency.

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Egypt Presidential Election Results: Mohamed Morsi Wins Presidency, But SCAF Determines His Fate

As published on PolicyMic


 


Mohamed Morsi is Egypt’s next president. The anxiously awaited results of Egypt’s presidential election were announced on Sunday, and Morsi, who initially entered the race as a back-up to the seemingly more likely candidate Khairat al-Shater, was declared victorious.

Morsi narrowly beat out rival Ahmed Shafiq with 51.73% of the vote in the second round.

Morsi’s presidency represents a lot of firsts: Egypt’s first democratically elected president, modern Egypt’s first civilian leader, and the first elected Islamist head of state in the Arab world. Questions abound as to what his leadership will mean for Egypt and for the U.S. The story of Egypt’s post-revolutionary political transition is not yet drawing to a conclusion, though, and the questions that analysts and observers should be asking revolve not around Morsi’s conservative Islamism, but around legitimacy of leadership and divisions of power.

Recent actions taken by the SCAF disbanded the lower house of Parliament, gave the SCAF the right to form a new Constituent Assembly, and gave the SCAF control over the military at the expense of the executive. Although fears that the trend would continue with the SCAF throwing the election in Shafiq’s favor were not realized, it is apparent that the SCAF will attempt to retain control despite any supposed transition of power. The question, then, is how much control, and how the Muslim Brotherhood and the people of Egypt will react.

At this point, the hallmark of a successful transition is likely to be the achievement of political and economic stability: The turmoil that has followed the January 25 Revolution has rendered democracy a second priority for many. Morsi’s margin of victory is less than 3.5%, hardly a mandate. Particularly without the support of the SCAF and without a constitution, he will certainly have his work cut out for him establishing that stability (and rebuilding trust in the Brotherhood’s political leadership).

His success or failure in doing so will largely determine the implications of his presidency for Egypt, the region, and the world. Any predictions to this end, however, cannot be based solely on the political history and credentials of Morsi and the Brotherhood, but must place equal weight on the forthcoming  actions of the SCAF.

 

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Alf Mubarak – The dictator with 1000 lives…

“Mubarak is dead – justice at last”

“Earlier reports false…Mubarak is still alive”

“SCAF: Mubarak alive, in critical condition”

These are just a handful of the thousands, if not millions of tweets that have consumed the Twitterverse regarding the current state of Mubarak. They mirror much of the conversation taking place on the streets of Cairo, Alexandria and elsewhere, as many Egyptians anxiously await to see the fate of the man who ruled over them for decades.

It does seem, however, that people are talking less and less about the election. Could this be a ploy by the SCAF to divert attention from the presidential race?

Perhaps…one thing is certain: this is yet another case of Mubarak dominating an election.

Continue to follow @Egypt_Elects for more updates on Mubarak, the elections, and the next uncertainty that will undoubtedly face Egypt.

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Initial outlook on Egypt Elections: Morsi wins, but what exactly has he gained?

Official results haven’t yet been released, but Morsi has claimed victory and SCAF has stated it will hold a ceremony to hand over power to the newly elected president at the end of June. Shafiq’s campaign continues to deny that Morsi won, and has accused him of ‘hijacking’ the elections. Al-Masry Al-Youm have placed Morsi as the victor with approximately 51% of votes. Turnout appears to have surged from very low on the first day to approximately fifty percent of the eligible public, giving the elections more credibility despite widespread complaints that neither candidate represented Egypt prior to the vote.

Morsi may have won but measures enacted by SCAF in recent days strip the executive of major powers and consolidate influence for SCAF. The democratically elected Parliament has also been dissolved, in what many reporters are calling a ‘coup’ by SCAF.

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Runoff Election in Egypt begins

Reports coming out of Egypt today indicate a lot of unrest and a decreased turn out from the first election. Election monitors, namely Lawyers Syndicate,  have declared the turn out was not more than 20%, and in  the north social media reports indicated that soldiers were knocking on doors and asking people to vote.

To read more, the Egypt Independent offers a good breakdown of election turn out. Polls are still open, and  there are some indications that sunset may bring a surge of voters as it did in the first round of elections but this is unlikely to bring turn out up to the same levels as the previous round.  Many Egyptians have expressed fear that the elections were rigged, and have changed their votes accordingly. Both  sides are being accused of manipulating the election.

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