Egypt dissolves parliament and constitution, military consolidates control

Monday, February 14, 2011

CAIRO - The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces has consolidated its control over Egypt by dissolving the country’s feeble parliament, suspending the constitution and calling for elections in six months.

In a statement, the Council effectively put Egypt under direct military authority, thrusting the country into uncharted territory since republican Egypt was founded in 1952.

Since seizing power from ex-president Hosni Mubarak last Friday, the military has struck a reassuring note, responding in words and actions to the platform articulated by hundreds of thousands in Cairo’s Tahrir (Liberation) Square.

Its statement said it would form a committee to draft constitutional amendments - pointedly keeping it in its hands, not the opposition’s - though it promised to put them before a referendum, the New York Times reports.

Though the opposition has welcomed the changes, they have quietly raised worries about the future role of the military that has been a status quo pillar in Egypt, playing a crucial behind-the-scenes role in preserving its vast business interests and political capital.

Calm seems to have returned to Egypt, but anti-government protests have broken out in Yemen and Algeria.

The statement declared that the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces would issue laws in the transitional period before elections and that Egypt’s defense minister, Field Marshal Tantawi Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, would represent the country at home and abroad.

Seventy-five-year-old Tantawi had until recently been referred to as Mubarak’s “poodle”, but in the wake of the pro-democracy protests and the exit of the president, he has emerged as the leader.Some senior American officers say he is a shrewd operator who played a significant role in managing Mubarak’s non-violent ouster.

Ayman Nour, a long time opponent of Mubarak, called the military’s communique a victory for the revolution.

Youth leaders like Ahmed Maher said the statement was fine, but added that he and others of his ilk would now be charting the path forward in negotiations with the military.

“The statement is fine. We still need more details but it was more comforting that what we heard before,” the New York Times quoted Maher, as saying.

Another organizer, Ahmed Zidan, said that the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces had met “90 percent of the demands” of the demonstrators. (ANI)

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