David Hearst writes: Millions of Egyptians went to bed last night thinking they had elected a president with full executive powers and woke up this morning in a military dictatorship. Just after the presidential polls closed, the generals granted themselves sweeping powers in a constitutional declaration that completes the coup started by dissolving parliament.
If the generals have their way, Egypt’s new president will not be able to legislate, control the budget, appoint members to a committee writing the new constitution, declare war or change the membership of the military council which assumes all these powers. The president will be able to appoint a cabinet and approve laws but whole swaths of policymaking – such as defence, national security or indeed the military’s vast commercial empire – will be a closed book to him.
To add insult to injury, the next president will have to swear his oath of allegiance before a constitutional court composed of Mubarak-era place men.
The most important power the military council retains is to prevent the president from changing its membership. Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, Mubarak’s defence minister for 20 years, is, apparently, commander-in-chief for life. [Continue reading…]