The New York Times reports: Egypt’s military rulers said Wednesday that they would control the process of writing a constitution and maintain authority over the interim government to check the power of Islamists who have taken a commanding lead in parliamentary elections.
In an unusual briefing evidently aimed at Washington, Gen. Mukhtar al-Mulla of the ruling council asserted that the initial results of elections for the People’s Assembly do not represent the full Egyptian public, in part because well-organized factions of Islamists were dominating the voting. The comments, to foreign reporters and not the Egyptian public, may have been intended to persuade Washington to back off its call for civilian rule.
“So whatever the majority in the People’s Assembly, they are very welcome, because they won’t have the ability to impose anything that the people don’t want,” General Mulla said, explaining that the makeup of Parliament will not matter because it will not have power over the constitution.
He appeared to say that the vote results could not be representative because the Egyptian public could not possibly support the Islamists, especially the faction of ultraconservative Salafis who have taken a quarter of the early voting.
“Do you think that the Egyptians elected someone to threaten his interest and economy and security and relations with international community?” General Mulla asked. “Of course not.”
The military’s insistence on controlling the constitutional process was the latest twist in a struggle between the generals’ council and a chorus of liberal and Islamist critics who want the elected officials to preside over the writing of a new constitution.