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Egypt’s Dubious Political Transition

Zachary Fisher

Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohammed Morsi claimed victory in Egypt’s presidential election early this morning, although the results are not yet official and will not be available until Thursday. According to state media, Morsi took over 52% of the vote and beat Mubarak holdover Ahmed Shafiq by about one million votes. Shafiq’s camp, for its part, disputes the results, saying that Morsi is trying to force victory. About half of all Egyptians turned out for this past weekend’s highly anticipated vote.

Yet even if Morsi is finalized as the president, he will have little power thanks to a Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) ruling that dictates that it will retain legislative and budgetary powers, as well as the power to declare war. SCAF, the military council which led Egypt in its time of transition, also declared an interim constitution following yesterday’s vote and granted itself power to choose who will write the new constitution. SCAF has been accused of conducting a coup because it has strengthened its own powers at the expense of those of the new president and the popular Muslim Brotherhood. Nevertheless, the military council denies these accusations and claims that it will peacefully hand over power at the end of the month. Thus, the new president will govern, for the time being, without a parliament or a constitution–as the Supreme Criminal Court comprised of Mubarak-era justices dissolved the Brotherhood-dominated parliament on Thursday because it was chosen in elections said to be unlawful.

An Egyptian woman shows her inked finger after casting her vote. (Photo: AP)

Meanwhile, with the chaos brought about by the “Arab Spring,” Egyptian security forces have neglected to patrol the Sinai Peninsula. As the voting was underway over the weekend there were multiple terrorist attacks perpetrated by Palestinian militants. On Saturday, two Grad rockets were launched into southern Israel from a terror cell in the Sinai. According to an Israeli security official, Hamas ordered the attacks at the request of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood. Earlier on Monday, three terrorists infiltrated the Gaza-Sinai border and blew up an Israeli vehicle near a construction team working on the Israel-Sinai border security fence.