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Morsi Versus the Military Council

Despite the SCAF’s ever tightening grip on key Egyptian political institutions, President Mohammed Morsi still has room to lay the groundwork for democracy, writes Yezid Sayigh. Morsi needs to both challenge the SCAF and forge a working relationship with any new parliament in order to consolidate meaningful civilian authority.
Egypt's Islamist President-elect Mohamed Mursi looks at the crowd that had gathered for his speech in Cairo's Tahrir Square June 29, 2012. Mursi took an informal oath of office on Friday before tens of thousands of supporters in Cairo's Tahrir Square, in a slap at the generals trying to limit his power. REUTERS/Egyptian Presidency/Handout (EGYPT - Tags: POLITICS) FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXA

Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohammad Morsi’s victory in the presidential election widens Egypt’s democratic opening by a crucial, if narrow, margin. But a long and difficult struggle lies ahead before democratically elected civilian leaders can assert meaningful authority over the country’s armed forces. Without this, future governments will lack the genuine autonomy to devise and implement policies, and will remain chronically unstable.

Yet former regime supporters, illiberal secular politicians, and even some liberal figures are confident that Morsi will last no more than a year, let alone a full four-year term. They further expect the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) to manipulate the drafting of the new constitution and the election of a new parliament in the coming months so as to ensure that Morsi will be no more than an interim president. Should the SCAF succeed, Egypt will come under indefinite military custodianship.

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