Tony Karon writes: The coup d’état that began 18 months ago in Egypt with the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak initially camouflaged itself in the language of revolution and promises of democracy, even as it worked to prevent the collapse of the old order and divide and conquer its challengers. But Thursday’s rulings by the Supreme Constitutional Court have shed the disguise: Egypt will be effectively ruled by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) junta and its backers in the bureaucracy and judiciary until further notice.
The court, a holdover from the Mubarak era, not only slapped down a law passed by the democratically elected parliament to bar officials of the former regime from running for office but also effectively dissolved the legislature itself. The first ruling upholds the candidacy of the military’s preferred option, former Mubarak Prime Minister Ahmed Shafik, in Saturday’s presidential-election runoff against the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohammed Morsi. And given the events of recent weeks, the smart money wouldn’t bet against him coming out on top in the race for a position whose powers have not yet been defined, a process over which the military retains a prerogative. Dissolving the parliament on the grounds that one-third of its seats were allegedly elected in an unconstitutional manner (albeit under the supervision of the junta and judiciary) may have even more far-reaching consequences: the Constituent Assembly, a highly contested body appointed by the parliament to draft a new constitution, is unlikely to survive the dissolution of the legislature that created it.
“Today’s moves by the Constitutional Court on behalf of the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces seem difficult to overcome and likely to push Egypt onto a dangerous new path,” warns George Washington University analyst Marc Lynch, who was an adviser to the Obama Administration during last year’s Arab rebellions. “With Egypt looking ahead to no parliament, no constitution and a deeply divisive new President, it’s fair to say the experiment in military-led transition has come to its disappointing end. Weeks before the SCAF’s scheduled handover of power, Egypt now finds itself with no parliament, no constitution (or even a process for drafting one) and a divisive presidential election with no hope of producing a legitimate, consensus-elected leadership. Its judiciary has become a bad joke, with any pretense of political independence from the military shattered beyond repair.” [Continue reading…]