Egypt: Brotherhood, army agree on leader's powers

Mohamed Morsy pledges to appoint woman, Christian and others from non-Brotherhood groups to vice presidential posts.

Morsy victory speech 370 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Morsy victory speech 370
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Muslim Brotherhood has reached some agreements with the army on the powers that Egypt’s first Islamist president will hold and the fate of the dissolved Islamist-led parliament, Brotherhood officials said on Tuesday.
The newly elected president, Mohamed Morsy, toured his palace on Monday. But after savoring the victory that installed him in place of the Brotherhood’s ousted enemy Hosni Mubarak, he immediately went to see the generals in the Defense Ministry in a visit that seemed to underline who really calls the shots.
Morsy, seeking to fulfill a promise of inclusive government, will name six vice presidents – a woman, a Christian and others drawn from non-Brotherhood political groups – to act as an advisory panel, said Sameh Essawi, an aide to the president.
Morsy has resigned as head of the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party to be a “president for all Egyptians,” but critics question his independence from the movement’s opaque leadership. The party appointed Essam el-Erian as its interim leader on Tuesday to replace him.
A senior Brotherhood aide, who asked not to be named, said Morsy’s team and the generals who have ruled Egypt since Mubarak’s removal had also agreed on how ministries should be divided in the cabinet.
“The ministries of finance and foreign affairs would go to the Brotherhood provided they steer clear of the defense, interior and justice ministries,” the aide said.
Morsy met police commanders on Tuesday at the police academy where Mubarak’s trial was held. The police come under the Interior Ministry, run by ex-police chiefs in Mubarak’s day.
Meanwhile, speculations continued on Tuesday about who Morsy would select to form his new cabinet.
Al-Shorouk newspaper reported unnamed political sources as saying the president-elect had contacted Mohamed ElBaradei regarding his possible candidacy for a “senior political role,” but did not specify exactly what that would be.
According to al-Shorouk, Dr. Khaled Hanafy of the Freedom and Justice Party, said that “all options are open” for the post of prime minister.
However, as the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) remains in control and without a constitution to define the new president’s powers, it is still unclear what authority Morsy will have – a position noted by former presidential candidate Abdel- Moneim Abu-Fotouh in a Monday press conference, when he described Morsy as “a ghost without the will or authority of a real president.”
Meanwhile, in a significant move on Tuesday, Egypt’s Supreme Administrative Court ruled to annul a controversial decree that empowered the military to make civilian arrests. The Ministry of Justice issued the decree on June 13.
Earlier on Tuesday, the court delayed until July rulings on four lawsuits against controversial decrees made by the ruling military junta.
The court postponed until July 7 a ruling on SCAF’s decision to dissolve parliament and until July 10 another ruling on a lawsuit brought against the recent SCAF-issued supplementary constitutional declaration, which greatly reduces the president’s powers and stipulates that the military junta retain legislative powers until the election of a new parliament.
As the court delayed ruling on these key issues, a question mark remained over where Morsy will take his presidential oath, which is expected to take place on Saturday.
The Muslim Brotherhood has previously said that it does not accept SCAF’s decree to dissolve parliament or its June 17 issuing of a supplementary constitutional declaration.
According to a report by Egyptian daily al-Ahram on Tuesday, Morsy will likely refuse to swear the oath in front of the High Constitutional Court – as decreed in the supplementary constitutional declaration – because to do so would indicate that he accepted both the supplementary declaration and the ruling to dissolve parliament.
Also ahead of Morsy’s swearing the oath of office, Egypt’s non-Muslim minorities remained anxious about what a Muslim Brotherhood president could mean for them.
Coptic Christians, who comprise around 10 percent of Egypt’s population, overwhelmingly favored Morsy’s rival, Ahmed Shafik, in the runoff elections. Copts have not welcome the news of Morsy’s victory, fearing increased violence from an Islamist-led country.
On Tuesday, Morsy’s policy adviser Ahmed Deif reiterated that Morsy wanted an inclusive Egypt in an interview with CNN, saying that one of the new president’s first steps will be to appoint a Christian vice president and another female vice president.
Deif said that an Egyptian woman would, for the first time in history, take such a senior political role.
“Not just a vice president who will represent a certain agenda and sect, but a vice president who is powerful and empowered, and will be taking care of critical advising within the presidential cabinet,” Deif told CNN.
Deif added that Morsy wants to create a “constitutional, civil, modern state that respects and enjoys its culture, principles and religions. Not just Islam but Islam and Christianity.” The president-elect, Deif told CNN, had never called for “an Islamic Republic in Egypt”.
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While the president-elect and his aides continue to emphasize inclusiveness, his moves are being scrutinized by an anonymous group of Egyptian activists, who have set up a website, dubbed the “Morsimeter,” to monitor Morsy’s performance in his first 100 days in office.
Meanwhile, also on Tuesday, defeated presidential candidate Shafik left Egypt to undertake a religious pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia, according to a press release issued by his campaign team. The announcement came a day after a prosecutor referred corruption lawsuits naming Shafik to an investigating judge.
“Ahmed Shafik left today at dawn for Abu Dhabi and from there – God willing – he will travel to the holy lands of Saudi Arabia to perform the umrah [pilgrimage to Mecca] before returning to his native Egypt safely, God willing,” Shafik’s campaign team said in a message on his official Facebook page.
In the same press release, Shafik’s campaign team said the defeated presidential candidate would start a new political party, which would “be a conduit for millions of Egyptians interested in a modern, civil and centrist state, following Shafik’s slogan of ‘Egypt is for all Egyptians.’”