Egyptian President Morsi's powers remain in question
Published: Sunday, July 15, 2012
Updated: Monday, August 27, 2012 16:08
For the first time in history, the people of Egypt have democratically elected their president. However, due to changes implemented by the military while still in power, it remains to be seen what the new presidency will mean for the country.
Since 1952, the military have dominated the political system in Egypt, and after the fall of
former-President Hosni Mubarak in February 2011 they quickly made moves to safeguard that control. According to Steven Cook, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, the head of the military, Field Marshall Tantawi, asked for a translation of Turkey’s 1982. This constitution, according to Cook, “both endows Turkish officers with wide-ranging powers to police the political arena and curtails the power of civilian leaders.”
Egypt’s military produced a constitutional declaration June 17, which took away presidential control of the budget, foreign policy, defense, national security, or military personnel in general.
In order to protect this declaration, the military also dissolved the parliament in a move that Cook said “has no legal basis.” Instead, the military will act of the Country’s legislature and therefore has the power to veto articles of a new constitution.
DePaul political science professor, Scott Hibbard, says that President Morsi “is not going to have anywhere near the kind of authority – and power – that Mubarak held.”
The reason for the military’s huge push for formal control is that they supported Morsi’s former opponent, Ahmed Shafiq, and strongly oppose a government held by the Muslim Brotherhood.
The Muslim Brotherhood, which Morsi was a member of until the day of his victory, was founded in 1928 by Hasan al-Banna who sought to restore Islamic order in Egypt. While the Brotherhood has had its share of controversy when it comes to violent extremism, the group said that they reject the use of violence as a tool and seek democracy.
Historically, the Muslim Brotherhood have done well during periods of poor economic and social well-being; a state which Egypt continues to face. Therefore, Hibbard said that the “stalemate over the past year [has been] between the military who want to preserve the status quo, and those who want to change it.”
Sayed El Salamony, who is pursuing a masters in economics and policy analysis at DePaul, is currently in Egypt and said that the feeling there is very mixed. “Many of the people around who are supporters of Shafiq have expressed sadness and concern regarding Morsi’s ability to lead and transition the nation in this difficult circumstance,” Sayad said.
He mentioned that he did not personally support either of the candidates but is, “beginning to be positive regarding [Morsi’s] actions, and people are beginning to sympathize with him. This is definitely interesting, especially with many of those being rich, secular, and anti-Muslim Brotherhood people.”
Two weeks ago, Morsi demanded that Parliamentary members meet regardless of the military’s constitutional declaration. The members met briefly June 9 and voted to refer the issue of the declaration to an appeals court, according to a June 11 report by Al Jazerra. The report also states that Morsi said that he was, "committed to the rulings of Egyptian judges and very keen to manage state powers and prevent any confrontation.”