Egypt's military rulers say they will hold onto final approval over the nation’s new political system regardless of the outcome of parliamentary elections, which show the Muslim Brotherhood winning a majority of runoff contests.
Khaled Desouki/AFP - Getty Images
Egyptian election officials in Cairo count ballots for the runoff for the first round of elections.
"We are in the early stages of democracy," said Gen. Mukhtar Mulla, a member of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces. "The parliament is not representing all sectors of society."
In theory, the new parliament will be entrusted with forming a 100-member constituent assembly to write the new constitution. But Mulla said the new council will coordinate with parliament and the Cabinet to ensure the assembly is representative of all religions, professions, and political parties.
The new constitution will determine the nature of Egypt's political system after the ouster of leader Hosni Mubarak last February.
Liberal groups and the military— a secular institution that has traditionally controlled access of Islamists to its ranks — are concerned that religious extremists will exert too much influence and could try to enshrine strict Islamic law, or Shariah, as the only guiding principle for state policies.
"We still have instability in Egypt. We have economic and security problems. The conditions are different," Mulla said, comparing Egypt’s parliament to the U.S. Congress. "When the parliament is in stable conditions, it can elect and choose whatever it wants. For now, all sectors of society must participate in constructing the new constitution."
The prospect of Islamiststaking charge in the most populous Arab state has caused concern in its major Western ally, the United States, as well as in Israel, which is anxious to safeguard its historic peace deal with Egypt.
The military’s announcement came along with two others regarding the shape of Egypt’s future civilian rule:
Election results:Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood won a majority of run-off contests in the first round of the parliamentary election, the electoral commission said on Wednesday. The results suggested that liberal voters swung behind the Brotherhood, banned under Mubarak, to prevent ultra-conservative Salafis from building on a strong initial showing in the multitiered election. The Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party won 24 of 44 seats awarded in the run-offs, while its allies took another four. The count for eight more seats was halted pending legal challenges, but the FJP said it expected to win six of them.
Power handover:In a bid to ease criticism it is dominating the gradualtransition to civilian rule, the army handed some presidential powers to new Prime Minister Kamal al-Ganzouri. The former premier under Mubarak pledged to improve security and the economy after nine months of army rule affected by socialunrest, sectarian violence and a deepening financial crisis.
This story contains reporting by Reuters and The Associated Press.
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