Islamists, Military on a Collision Course in Egypt
Egyptians finished two days of voting on Sunday, the first relatively free election for president in their history. But indications are that only about 15% of Egypt’s 50 million eligible voters bothered to cast ballots. The low turnout was a direct result of a Supreme Court decision on Thursday that dissolved the Islamist-dominated parliament and struck down a law that would have prevented former Mubarak-era prime Minister, Ahmed Shafiq, from running for president. The twin blows caught the Muslim Brotherhood flat footed as the military moved incredibly swiftly to seize legislative power and will now issue a "constitutional declaration” that defines the powers of the president in the absence of a new constitution. This forces the Muslim Brotherhood to make a choice: Either deal with the military on power sharing or take to the streets and put pressure on the generals to give in to their demands.
While many Egyptians were angry at the "soft coup” pulled off by the military, the actions of the court and military council had the effect of generating enormous cynicism among the population, which now sees the revolution as being overturned by the old regime. We have no choice at all,” said Eid Muhamed, who works in a tea house in Cairo. "Both of them are awful,” he added.
This belief is widespread across Egypt and no doubt contributed to the ennui that has gripped the electorate. Egypt’s political culture, which already sees a "hidden hand” that manipulates events so that they redound in favor of the rich and powerful, seems vindicated in that belief with the actions of the military and especially their allies in the courts. Most judges are Mubarak-era holdovers who are vehemently opposed to democratic change. Ahmed al-Zend, head of the influential Judges Club, representing most of Egypt’s jurists, denounced the parliament and threatened to overturn legislation passed by the elected body. "From this day forward, judges will have a say in determining the future of this country and its fate. We will not leave it to you to do with what you want." (...)