By: Lauren Saccone
Egypt’s presidential election on Sunday was supposed to be the final step in their march towards a free democracy based on the needs of the people. Since the fall of President Hosni Mubarak last year, the Egyptian military has been struggling to maintain control despite the public outcry for a democratic government. This internal power struggle has led to growing concerns that the Egyptian military is going to ignore the results of the presidential election.
According to preliminary reports Mohamed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate, won Sunday’s election. But other candidates have claimed victory as well, leading members of the presidential election commission to urge voters to wait for the official election results, which are expected on Thursday.
But within 20 minutes of the polls closing on Sunday, the Egyptian generals were already working to ensure their continued power. In a televised conference, the military issued a constitutional decree that guaranteed they could maintain control of their country for as long as they chose. Among other things, the order gives the military the power to veto a presidential declaration of war. The military also maintains control over the national budget, and is impervious to presidential control.
“The military is clearly trying to turn the clock back to what existed under the Mubarak regime,” Marina Ottaway, an analyst at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said in an interview with USA Today. “What is clear more and more is that the military sacrificed Mubarak to maintain the power of the old establishment.”
The situation is further complicated by the Muslim Brotherhood’s anti-American attitude, which could serve to exacerbate tensions between Egypt and the United States. Still, America has vowed to support the choices of the Egyptian people no matter which leader they choose. And the attempts of the military to impede this process have raised alarms in Washington.
“We’re going to monitor events closely,” promised Pentagon spokesman George Little.
[Pic via Flickr - Gigi Ibrahim]