Egypt’s military and president escalate their power struggle

The New York Times reports: Egypt’s highest court and its most senior generals on Monday dismissed President Mohamed Morsi’s order to restore the dissolved Parliament as an affront to the rule of law, escalating a raw contest for supremacy between the competing camps.

The power struggle reflected dueling claims to Egypt’s emerging politics, with each side trying to frame the debate as a contest for ideals, legitimacy and democracy. The generals, backed by the court, argue that the new president must respect legal precedents and the institutions of the state. The new president, in turn, is calling on the generals to respect a popular will that was expressed through free elections.

But at its core, the fate of this Parliament is another chapter in the long-running battle between the Muslim Brotherhood and the military that intensified when the generals dissolved the legislature last month based on a court order and seized all lawmaking and executive authority.

The response by the military and the court on Monday threw Egypt into a new phase of political turmoil, with the prospect of a presidency weakened even further, a legislative vacuum and a bitter split at the highest levels of government. And it revived ideological rifts that many people hoped would quiet with the election of a new president.

Mr. Morsi, who was the Brotherhood’s candidate, called on Sunday for the Islamist-led Parliament to return, staking his new presidency on the outcome of the conflict. The body’s speaker scheduled a session for Tuesday, but it was unclear how many lawmakers would appear, or whether the security forces would try to block them, as they did once before. And Parliament’s ability to pass laws is already in doubt, given the court ruling that led to its dissolution.

Mr. Morsi, hemmed in by the generals’ near monopoly on power, moved after just nine days in office. His bold decree was a gamble that he could wrest legislative authority from the military and enhance his popular credibility.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email