Egypt's Military Hijacks Elections


Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 23:46 PM EDT, 18 June 2012

Egyptian Military Members, Photo by Jonathan RashadCAIRO,  Egypt - The first ‘free’ presidential election since the ouster of Hosni Mubarak 16 months ago were held and The Brotherhood’s Freedom declared its candidate, Mohammed Morsy as the victor. This despite the fact that the just as polls were closing, the ruling Military council issued constitutional amendments that gave sweeping authority to maintain its grip on power and subordinate the nominal head of state.

This leaves Egyptian protesters who gave so much in pursuit of freedom and a democratically elected government between the proverbial ‘rock and a hard place.’ The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) which has been ruling since Mubarak’s overthrow initially proclaimed it was in effect acting in the capacity of placeholder until a new president was elected.

Unfortunately, like many African nations, most recently Mali, once the military assumes power the likelihood of their relinquishing this power peaceably is historically low. Additionally, Egypt has a six decade long history of military rule and now the only alternatives are to return to military rule or submit to potential radical Islamist government.

In Sunday’s decree, the military assumed legislative authority after instructing the court to dissolve parliament. They will also control the drafting a new constitution but will not allow civilian oversight of its significant economic interests or other affairs.

Using its legislative authority, the military council issued another decree made public on Monday forming a new national defense council made up of 11 senior military commanders, including the defense minister, as well as the president, which would in effect solidify the role of the military as the highest authority over national security policy.

Morsy, 60, represents the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamic fundamentalist group which has emerged as the most powerful political faction since the uprising is sensitive to the vulnerabilities of his party. In a highly charged region in which Egypt has traditionally been staunch U.S. ally and a moderate voice in the Israeli Arab conflict, his only chance to retain his newly elected presidency is to quickly distance himself from radical elements.

In a victory speech Morsy clearly sought to assuage the fears of many Egyptians that the Brotherhood will try to impose stricter provisions of Islamic law. He said he seeks "stability, love and brotherhood for the Egyptian civil, national, democratic, constitutional and modern state" and made no mention of Islamic law.

Egypt is in a precarious and potential explosive position because as John C. Calhoun said, “The interval between the decay of the old and the formation and establishment of the new constitutes a period of transition which must always necessarily be one of uncertainty, confusion, error, and wild and fierce fanaticism.”