There was another election last weekend, in Egypt.
The outcome was a pattern familiar here in the U.S., where urban centers are often blue and the countryside red [and just how did red come to be associated with the GOP anyway?]
While Cairo went for the Ahmed Shafiq, the former Air Marshal turned government official, the countryside went for the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohammed Mursi, giving him the vistory.
Neither candidate, of course, represented the last year’s occupation of Tahrir Square, the event that set the changes in motion which have led Egypt to a choice a technocratic politician with a military background and a religious conservative.
But the decision of voters means a lot less in light of a pair of bombs dropped by the army.
The outcome, from Ahram in Cairo:
Results from Cairo are finally in giving Shafiq a solid lead in the capital with 57.7 per cent of the vote compared to rival Mursi’s 42.3 per cent.
However, the Cairo initial tallies will not be enough to put Shafiq ahead of Mursi after votes have been reported in 27 governorates.
If these results stand, Muslim Brotherhood contender Mursi will have won Egypt’s first post-uprising elections with 51.89 per cent of the vote, succeeding toppled strongman Hosni Mubarak.
Downtown Cairo has woken up to the sound of horns and celebratory chants as Mursi supporters continue to descend on the capital’s iconic Tahrir Square.
Official results will be announced by the Supreme Presidential Electoral Commission on Thursday, 21 June; the ruling military council will “hand over power” on 30 June.
But meanwhile, the army had dropped the political equivalent of a H-bomb.
From the BBC:
Lt Muhammad al-Assar from the Supreme Council of Armed Forces (Scaf) told a news conference that a ceremony would be held in late June to hand over power to the new president, state media report.
However, the constitutional declaration issued by the Scaf late on Sunday effectively gives it legislative powers, control over the budget and over who writes the permanent constitution following mass street protests that toppled Mr Mubarak in February 2011.
It also strips the president of any authority over the army.
The Scaf have even guaranteed themselves jobs for life, the BBC’s Jon Leyne in Cairo reports.
More from Ernesto Londoño and Leila Fadel of the Washington Post:
On Sunday, the country’s military leaders issued a constitutional decree that gave the armed forces sweeping powers and downgraded the presidency to a subservient role. The seizure of power followed months in which Egypt’s ruling generals had promised to cede authority to a new civilian government by the end of June. Activists and political analysts charged that the generals’ move instead marked the start of a military dictatorship, a sharp reversal from the promise of Egypt’s popular revolt last year.
The generals sought to play down the scope of the decree during a news conference Monday. Maj. Gen. Mohamed el-Assar said the military chiefs would hold a grand ceremony before the end of the month to hand over the reins of power to the new president.
Under the generals’ decree, Egypt’s president will have no control over the military’s budget or leadership and will not be authorized to declare war without the consent of the ruling generals.
The document said the military would soon name a group of Egyptians to draft a new constitution, which would be subject to a public referendum within three months. Once a new charter is in place, a parliamentary election would be held to replace the Islamist-dominated lower house that was dissolved after the country’s high court ruled that one-third of the chamber’s members had been elected unlawfully.
More telling details from David D. Kirkpatrick of the New York Times:
The generals also declined to back away from the core of an interim charter they issued late Sunday night, just as the polls closed, that removed the military and the defense minister from presidential authority and oversight. They also defended their imposition of martial law, granting the military the power to detain civilian for trial in military courts.
Moreover, the generals specifically suggested they might use such powers to keep the Parliament closed. Brotherhood lawmakers have denied that the military or the court had the authority to close the Parliament, and they have vowed to show up at the chambers as scheduled on Tuesday. And as an example of the potential need to apply martial law, the generals suggested that if someone sought to enter the building “to commit a crime” the soldiers could potentially detain them for military trial.
On the question of a permanent constitution, the state media reported late Sunday night that the generals had picked their own 100-member panel to draft a permanent charter, casting aside the similar panel picked by the Parliament. The generals said on Monday that those reports were premature. A separate court case could strike down the Parliament-picked assembly on Tuesday, putting it in jeopardy, the generals said, so they were merely prepared to pick their own panel.
Ahram has posted the full text of the military decree here.
In response, the Egyptian stock market dropped and negatives comments poured in from Europe and the U.S.
Sunday’s announcement follows the publication Thursday of another decree establishing a military-dominated National Defence Council — without bothering to spell out its duties.