Saturday, 7 July 2012

Egypt: Morsi Sworn In Before Regime's Court

Submitted for publication to Green Left Weekly.

The Muslim Brotherhood candidate for Egypt's Presidential Elections, Mohamed Morsi, was sworn into office on July 30, after the Electoral Comission announced on June 24 that he had beaten ex-regime candidate Ahmed Shafiq with 51.7% of the vote.

Morsi sworn in before High Constitutional Court. Photo: Xinhua

Significantly, Morsi swore the oath before Egypt's High Consitutional Court (HCC) – which on June 14 declared the law regulating the 2011 parliamentary elections, in which the Muslim Brotherhood won close to half of all seats, unconstitutional.

Egypt's Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF), which had exercised presidential powers after Hosni Mubarak's resignation, then dissolved the Parliament on June 17 with a supplementary Constitutional Declaration that also gave itself several Presidential powers and oversights.

This includes power to dissolve and appoint the constituent assembly elected by parliament to draft a new constitution.

The conformation of Morsi's win, however, was overshadowed by protests and sit-ins at Cairo's iconic Tahrir Square and elsewhere around the country, demanding the parliament be restored and the supplementary Constitution Declaration be revoked.

The Muslim Brotherhood called on its supporters to join the protests on Friday June 22, demanding the military respect Morsi's win.

However, Judge Tahani El-Gebaly, a member of the HCC, insisted in comments to al-Ahram newspaper that Morsi was bound to accept the addendum after taking oath before the court.

An AFP report quoted Morsi as saying there would be "no Islamisation of state institutions" during his Presidency, while the Herald Sun reported his vision of Egypt was as a "democratic, modern and constitutional state".

He also stated that he would "stand with the Palestinian people until they regain all their rights" – however, the supplementary Constitutional Declaration also declared the SCAF has sole authority over military matters and is the only body which can declare a state of war.

Egypt's military receives billions of dollars of aid from the US government annually; a key concern of American commentators has been the potential of the new regime to break the 1979 peace treaty between Egypt and Israel, brokered at Camp David.

After taking office, Morsi began accepting protesters into his office to hear their grievances. On July 4 it was announced a group of public-sector teachers demanding permanent full-time contracts who had been protesting had their demands granted by Morsi. In response, Al-Ahram ran the headline: "The people know the way to the palace"

However, protesters demanding an end to military trials of civilians and the release of political prisoners were prevented from entering, reported Al Arabiya on July 4.

The demands of Tahrir - for democratisation, equality before the law, putting regime figures on trial - are still being fought tooth and nail by the regime. Yet the independant worker's movement seems to be winning far more sympathy amongst the population - and, as such, presenting far more of a threat to the "new" regime.

General Adel Al-Morsi, head of the Military Judiciary Authority, was reported Daily News Egypt as saying that no ‘political prisoners’ are facing military trials, only 'criminals'. He also said responsibility lay with the President to pardon any charged by military courts.

Morsi, who officially resigned from the Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party after election results were announced, called for supporters to take to Tahrir on June 29 for the "Friday of the transfer of power". Protesters chanted "Down with the power of the military," reported AFP.

However, Egypt Independant reported on July 2 that Mostafa al-Ghoneimy, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Guidance Bureau, announced they would no longer be supporting the Tahrir sit-in.

Sayed al-Nazily, a member of the Brotherhood Shura Council, said members were instructed to continue the sit-in until a July 9 challenge to the ruling which dissolved parliament.

Ahram Online's Yasmine Wali reported on July 3 that the Square was almost empty, with only a handful of Brotherhood supporters remaining. Other activist groups such as the April 6 Youth Movement also suspended their involvement in Tahrir.

As the struggle between the SCAF and Morsi for control of the state apparatus unfolds, it seems clear that, despite the hopes of many, Tahrir's revolutionaries will still need to take to the streets to win their demands.

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