The New York Times reports: The commission overseeing Egypt’s first competitive presidential election will declare an official winner on Sunday, the panel said Saturday, amid growing conviction that the announcement has become a bargaining chip in a negotiation for power between the ruling generals and the Muslim Brotherhood.
“As the beginning of a transition to democracy, it is a disaster,” said Omar Ashour, a political scientist at the University of Exeter and the Brookings Doha Center, who is here in Cairo. But, he added, the disaster began the day before the presidential runoff, when the military dissolved the Brotherhood-led Parliament and seized legislative power.
“The generals have their fingers on the reset button if they don’t like the outcome,” Mr. Ashour said. While the Brotherhood may have more legitimacy and the ability to bring hundreds of thousands into the streets, “the generals have the guns and tanks and armored vehicles,” he said. “We are playing realpolitik at the moment.”
Television talk shows have obsessed over fragmentary reports of conversations between Brotherhood leaders and the ruling generals, mainly a face-to-face meeting last weekend between the Brotherhood’s parliamentary leader, Saad el-Katatni, and Gen. Sami Hafez Enan. But a Brotherhood spokesman, Jihad el-Haddad, said Saturday that there had been no direct meetings since then, when the Brotherhood made its demands for the reinstatement of Parliament and the empowerment of an elected president.
What is more, he said, the Brotherhood agreed Friday that from now on any talks with the generals would be conducted by a new “national front” it had formed with more secular or liberal advocates of democracy. In so doing, the Brotherhood is acceding to arguments for greater collaboration and openness that have been for years advanced by its more liberal leaders.
Mr. Haddad also insisted that the announcement of a president was merely a first step toward the resolution of the standoff, adding that thousands of Brotherhood members and their allies have once again occupied Tahrir Square in Cairo. “The governing will within the national front is that there will be no meeting with SCAF unless there is an elected president,” he said, referring to the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces.