Egyptian military holds on to power despite presidential vote

Updated 10:00 AM EDT, Tue June 19, 2012

Story highlights

The military council releases an interim constitutional declaration

Egypt's military gives itself sweeping legislative and budgetary power

The military council makes the move at the conclusion of a two-day runoff

Muslim Brotherhood's Morsi declares victory, citing an unofficial tally

Cairo CNN —  

An Islamist backed by the Muslim Brotherhood declared victory as Egypt’s first democratically elected president even as the country’s military rulers issued a decree that stripped the position of much of its power.

The move by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces – who have run Egypt since the ouster in February 2011 of Hosni Mubarak – came Sunday at the conclusion of a two-day presidential runoff.

Even with no constitution, no parliament and, possibly, little power, the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi declared victory late Sunday over Ahmed Shafik, who was Egypt’s prime minister in the final days of the regime of Mubarak.

Unofficial results released Monday by the state-run Al-Ahram news website showed Morsi with 11.2 million votes, or 52.3%, compared with 10.3 million for Shafik.

Shafik did not concede, saying votes had not yet been tallied in his stronghold districts, including portions of Cairo.

Whoever emerges as the winner, his power will be limited.

Under an interim constitutional declaration released Monday by the military council, the military council retains the power to make laws and budget decisions for the country until a new constitution can be written and a new parliament elected.

The declaration says Supreme Council members “shall decide all matters related to military affairs, including the appointment of its leaders.”

The president has the power to declare war, it says, but only “after the approval of the SCAF.”

In the event of unrest in the country, like that which preceded Mubarak’s ouster, the president can involve the armed forces to provide general security, but only “after receiving the approval of the SCAF,” it says.

The real obstacle to democracy in Egypt

Under the military council’s decree, Egypt’s new constitution must be drawn up within three months.

The president will set the date for new parliamentary elections, and he will have the power to pardon. He also will have the ability to appoint government officials and ambassadors.

Last Thursday, the high court ruling that invalidated parliament and paved the way for the military council to dissolve the legislative body was derided by Morsi’s spokesman as “a soft military coup.” The spokesman, Jihad Hadad, said it was “full of legal loopholes.”