Egypt’s SCAF Bypasses Parliament in Issuing Elections Law
The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), the military junta that took power in Egypt after the January revolution, drew ire from the newly-elected parliament yesterday when it issued rules for upcoming presidential elections. The law did not set a date for the election, though the SCAF stated earlier that presidential hopefuls could officially begin campaigning in mid-April, with the election taking place sometime in June. Lawmakers in Egypt’s lower house of parliament, the People’s Assembly, criticized the law and charged that the SCAF had no authority to issue new legislation. In an announcement earlier this month, SCAF-appointed interim Prime Minister Kamal Al Ganzouri said the military council officially turned over legislative responsibilities to the new parliament. A prominent MP from the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice party, Mohammed Al Beltagy, rejected the SCAF’s unilateral move and said “the parliament has become the only and unchallenged legislative authority.”
Also in Cairo, pro-democracy demonstrators briefly faced off against Muslim Brotherhood supporters outside the parliament this afternoon. Activists marched to the People’s Assembly and found the Islamists had formed a human chain around the building. While there were a few scuffles the standoff was broadly peaceful and activists eventually left. Islamists won the majority of seats in Egypt’s parliament, and they plan to consolidate their gains by pressing for a powerful parliament while reducing the powers of the president and military, writes Marwa Awad in Reuters Africa. This strategy would put them at odds with the ruling military council; Omar Ashour argues in Project Syndicate that the SCAF’s “minimum” requirements for leaving power are a veto on legislation, independence of the military budget, and legal immunity from crimes committed over the last year. This agenda will likely lead to conflict with Egypt’s Islamists and Tahrir activists, Ashour writes.