To wrap up our coverage for three exhausting days of Egypt’s transition into…something, we offer a bit of self indulgent video. Here’s a video interview of me, shot yesterday while I was doing this blog, giving a rather downbeat assessment of things. I swear my editors made me post this.
Those geeks among you will hopefully enjoy the extended Star Wars analogy at the very end.
Somewhat lost amid the vote counting and back-and-forth victory claims and allegations is the fact that there’s a potentially very messy confrontation coming–probably this week- regarding the fate of the Egyptian parliament.
A controversial Supreme Court ruling dissolved the Muslim Brotherhood-controlled People’s Assembly last week just before the presidential runoff. But some of the parliamentarians are fighting back and promising to convene a session on Tuesday.
Meanwhile the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces ordered the parliamentary chambers sealed almost immediately after that verdict; on Sunday two MPS were prevented from entering the building.
This sets up an immediate physical showdown outside of Parliament tomorrow, unless somebody backs down. At the very least, we might get the novel spectacle of a bunch of MPs holding an open-air session in Tahrir Square.
*Thanassis Cambanis, who’s writing a book about post-revolutionary Egypt, asks: “Is Anyone ready to actually lead Egypt?” Cambanis, a former Boston Globe correspondent, concludes: “The Muslim Brotherhood is inflexible and exclusive, the military power-hungry and self-interested, liberals are in disarray, and a country that badly needs cooperation is once again plagued by division.”
Other than that, everything’s fine!
That’s the conclusion of blogger and activist Mahmoud “Sandmonkey” Salem. In a long post, Salem concludes that whatever started on January 25, 2011 has come to an end today.
“All of us had those goals and not a single vision on what to do afterwards, because the removal of Mubarak was such a pipedream. So, you successfully dethrone a tyrant, and you have neither plan nor vision on what to do afterwards, and no real understanding of the regime itself, then, quite naturally, you fall flat on your face, and we have been doing that for the past 18 months. This has been our story: the removal of a dictator and the repercussions that follow. That’s what’s been happening. This ends today, and the new chapter starts, for better or worse.”
Salem quite often does NOT speak for the larger activist community; later he attacks revolutionaries who opted to vote for Mohammed Moursi as “a bunch of cowards that let your fear control your political choices.”
But on this score we do think he captures the mood among much of the revolutionaries: disillusioned and frustrated, but determined to continue their struggle. He concludes by listing some of the on-the-ground achievements of the revolution to-date, including:
Hosny Mubarak, his son and his VP are not ruling us.
The NDP is broken into many different pieces
Serious weakening of classism in a classist society
Incredible amount of art, music and culture that was unleashed all over the country
Entire generations in schools and universities that have become politicized, aware and active.
The votes were still being counted early this morning when the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces made a major move to enshrine it’s own power, influence and independence. A set of amendments to its constitutional declaration were issued enshrining a number of major changes. Among them:
*The military is now essentially autonomous and the next president will not be commander in chief of the military and won’t be able to order the army to do anything it doesn’t want to.
*The SCAF, which already absorbed legislative authority after a court ruling last week dissolved the parliament, now assumes a controlling role in drafting the new constitution. The current constituent assembly faces an undefined deadline to show progress. Otherwise SCAF will unilaterally form its own assembly. Either way, SCAF retains the right to veto any aspects of the proposed constitution that are, “in opposition to the goals of the revolution or its basic principles… or the common principles of Egypt’s past constitutions.”
The declaration itself was not unexpected; people had been predicting it for days. But the timing–in the middle of a chaotic night of vote counting–is either deliberately obnoxious or a sign that the SCAF decided to move to formally weaken the presidency when it became clear that the Muslim Brotherhood might win.
Early analysis of the move has been damning. George Washington University professor Nathan Brown issued a harsh assessment saying the new clauses, if they stand, “really do constitutionalize a military coup.”
Just before dawn Cairo time, supporters of Mohammed Moursi, the Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate erupted in joyous, often tearful celebrations. A steady trickle of early results from around the country had showed their man consistently leading Ahmed Shafiq–a former Mubarak era prime Minister and all-purpose symbol of the Egyptian old guard.
By morning, the independent press felt secure in declaring Moursi the winner as well. The official numbers won’t be released for another day or so, and Shafiq’s camp is disputing the Moursi victory claims.
Stay tuned. We’ll be updating throughout the day as the situation develops and looking forward to some of the post-electoral storylines as well.
At times like this, we pay tribute to the dedicated geeks out there in the twitterverse. Today’s hero is the apparently slightly obsessive @iyad_albaghdadi who is putting together a wonderful running spreadsheet tally as results come in. Thanks Iyad!
Polls in Egypt finally closed at 10 pm Cairo Time. Within a half hour, the Muslim Brotherhood was laying down the gauntlet on its @ikhwanweb twitter feed–sending out a string of real time results from their own observers in districts around the country.
Obviously these numbers haven’t been independently verified. And you have to wonder if the organization was selectively picking districts in which their man won. In a dozen different twitter dispatches, Moursi was shown winning every time–sometimes by a slim margin and sometimes in a landslide.
This is either a show of extreme confidence by the Brotherhood or a move to lay the groundwork to charge electoral fraud if the official numbers end up differing from theirs.