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Mohammed Mursi

Egypt’s stock market sees a plunge in its shares of almost 10% on Sunday, days after President Mohammed Mursi granted himself sweeping new powers.

Protests against Mohammed Mursi’s decision have continued in Cairo, while the Muslim Brotherhood is planning rallies backing him later.

Trading was suspended for 30 minutes as shares slumped in the first session since the president’s announcement.

But the slide continued as soon as share dealing resumed.

Renewed clashes broke out in Cairo on Sunday morning between protesters and security forces in a street leading to Tahrir Square. Trails of tear gas could be seen in the square itself.

Stones were thrown close to the US embassy, but because concrete blocks had been erected in the area the situation was less tense than before, Mena news agency reported.

The barriers had been put up to secure key Egyptian government and parliamentary buildings, Mena added.

According to President Mohammed Mursi’s decree, announced on Thursday, no authority can revoke presidential decisions.

There is also a bar on judges dissolving the assembly which is drawing up a new constitution.

Mohammed Mursi sacked chief prosecutor Abdel Maguid Mahmoud, who was first appointed by ex-president Hosni Mubarak.

Maguid Mahmoud’s replacement, Talaat Ibrahim, has been given the job of re-examining all investigations into the deaths of protesters when Hosni Mubarak was in power.

Egypt’s judges denounced the decree on Saturday as an “unprecedented attack” on the judiciary, and the Judges’ Club that represents them called for “the suspension of work in all courts and prosecution administrations”.

Twenty-two rights groups signed an open letter which said the president “has dealt a lethal blow to the Egyptian judiciary” and demanded that the decree should be revoked immediately.

Egypt's stock market sees a plunge in its shares after President Mohammed Mursi granted himself sweeping new powers

Egypt’s stock market sees a plunge in its shares after President Mohammed Mursi granted himself sweeping new powers

Opposition politician Mohamed ElBaradei had earlier complained that the president had “usurped all state powers and appointed himself Egypt’s new pharaoh”.

But the president’s measures have also prompted his supporters to come out on to the streets and there were clashes on Saturday as pro-Mursi demonstrators tried to disrupt an emergency Judges Club meeting.

The Muslim Brotherhood, which backs Mohammed Mursi’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) party, has called for further demonstrations in support of the decree after sunset.

The Islamist movement has called for a one-million-man march to be held at Abdin Square on Tuesday.

President Mohammed Mursi’s decree:

  • All investigations into killing of protesters or use of violence against them to be held again; trials of those accused also to be re-held
  • All constitutional declarations, laws and decrees made since Mohammed Mursi assumed power cannot be appealed or cancelled
  • Public prosecutor to be appointed by president for 4-year fixed term and aged at least 40
  • Constituent assembly’s timeline for drafting new constitution extended by two months
  • No judicial authority can dissolve constituent assembly or upper house of parliament (Shura Council)
  • President authorized to take any measures to preserve revolution, national unity or safeguard national security

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Egypt’s top judges have accused President Mohammed Mursi of staging an “unprecedented attack” on the judiciary.

Mohammed Mursi passed a decree earlier this week granting himself extensive new powers.

It includes a bar on any court dissolving the constituent assembly, which is drawing up a new constitution.

Thursday’s decree has sparked angry demonstrations, with attacks on offices of Mohammed Mursi’s Muslim Brotherhood party.

The president has said he is acting to protect the revolution.

In a statement, the Supreme Judicial Council called on Mohammed Mursi to “this decree from everything that violates the judicial authority,” Mena state news agency reported.

There had been reports that the council was about to disband the constituent assembly for a second time.

Egypt's top judges have accused President Mohammed Mursi of staging an unprecedented attack on the judiciary

Egypt’s top judges have accused President Mohammed Mursi of staging an unprecedented attack on the judiciary

That could seriously derail the transition to democracy, says our correspondent, further delaying new parliamentary elections, which could deter Egypt’s political leaders from taking tough decisions while they wait for the vote.

Mohammed Mursi also sacked his prosecutor general on Thursday and gave himself the sole power to appoint a new one.

His replacement moved quickly to reopen criminal investigations into ousted President Hosni Mubarak, his family, and former regime officials.

It is likely to be a popular move, as although Mubarak is serving a long jail term for ordering the killing of protesters during the 2011 uprising, many officials were acquitted, creating deep resentments.

The ruling also bans any challenging of the president’s decisions and laws.

Both critics and supporters of Mohammed Mursi have staged rallies since the decree. Overnight, crowds gathered in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, vowing to stage a sit-in.

A large opposition rally is also planned for Tuesday.

The US said earlier that Mohammed Mursi’s move had raised concerns in the international community.

Egypt’s President Mohammed Mursi has appeared before supporters in Cairo to defend a new decree that grants him sweeping powers.

Mohammed Mursi told them he was leading Egypt on a path to “freedom and democracy” and was the guardian of stability.

He was speaking as thousands of opponents gathered in Cairo’s Tahrir Square and offices of the president’s party were attacked in several cities.

The decree says presidential decisions cannot be revoked by any authority.

Speaking at a rally at the presidential palace in Cairo, Mohammed Mursi said he was working to secure a strong and stable nation, for which there was a “great future”.

He said: “I am for all Egyptians. I will not be biased against any son of Egypt.”

Mohammed Mursi said he was the guardian of political, economic and social stability and wanted to see a “genuine opposition, a strong opposition”.

“I am the guarantor of that and I will protect for my brothers in the opposition all their rights so they can exercise their role.”

Mohammed Mursi also vowed to defend the independence of the executive, judiciary and legislature and not issue decrees to settle scores.

But across the capital in Tahrir Square, thousands of the president’s opponents heeded calls to demonstrate against the decree.

Chants of “Mursi is Mubarak… revolution everywhere” rang out.

There were clashes between protesters and police in the square, with tear gas fired at demonstrators and Molotov cocktails thrown in return.

Mohammed Mursi has appeared before supporters in Cairo to defend a new decree that grants him sweeping powers

Mohammed Mursi has appeared before supporters in Cairo to defend a new decree that grants him sweeping powers

According to Egypt’s state-run news agency, Mena, three people were injured in violence in Cairo’s central Mohammed Mahmoud street.

Offices of the president’s Muslim Brotherhood party have reportedly been attacked in the cities of Port Said and Ismailia.

Clashes between rival demonstrations took place in Alexandria.

Protesters in the Mediterranean city stormed the offices of the Muslim Brotherhood’s political wing, the Freedom and Justice Party, throwing out books and chairs, and starting a fire.

Up to 2,000 demonstrators stormed the Muslim Brotherhood headquarters in Suez, while hundreds of people also protested against the new decree in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.

In a joint news conference on Thursday, Sameh Ashour, head of a lawyers association, and key opposition figures Mohamed ElBaradei and Amr Moussa accused Mohammed Mursi of “monopolizing all three branches of government” and overseeing “the total execution of the independence of the judiciary”.

Mohamed ElBaradei, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, wrote on his Twitter account that the president had “appointed himself Egypt’s new pharaoh. A major blow to the revolution that could have dire consequences”.

US state department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said on Friday that the decree had “raised concerns” in the international community, because Egypt’s revolution “was to ensure that power would not be overly concentrated in the hands of any one person or institution”.

She said the US wanted “democratic dialogue” within Egypt to solve constitutional issues.

The new decree bans challenges to Mohammed Mursi’s laws and decisions, and says no court can dissolve the constituent assembly, which is drawing up a new constitution.

It also opens the way for a retrial of people convicted of killings during Egypt’s 2011 uprising which toppled President Hosni Mubarak.

The declaration also gives the 100-member constituent assembly two additional months to draft a new constitution, to replace the one suspended after Hosni Mubarak was overthrown.

The rewrite of the constitution, which was meant to be finished by December, has been plagued by lawsuits questioning the make-up of the constituent assembly.

Once completed, the document is due to be put to a referendum. If it is approved, legislative elections will be held two months later.

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Egypt’s President Mohammed Mursi, who is leading mediation efforts between Hamas and Israel, says he expects Israeli forces to end air strikes on Gaza later on Tuesday.

The comment came as US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is heading to the region to support ceasefire efforts.

Israel says it has put plans for a land invasion of Gaza on hold.

But it has also told villagers in north, south and east of Gaza to move to central areas for their own safety.

Leaflets dropped in a number of villages say: “The Israel Defense Forces are not targeting any of you and they do not want to harm you or your families. For your safety we demand you to evacuate your houses immediately and move towards the centre of Gaza city.”

The conflict began last Wednesday when Israel killed a Hamas military leader, saying it wanted an end to rocket attacks from Gaza. More than 110 Palestinians and three Israelis have been killed.

Tuesday has seen a reduced level of violence, correspondents say, even though Israel has conducted some strikes. One was a “direct hit” on two militants in northern Gaza, the Israeli military said.

It also said about 90 rockets had been fired from Gaza toward Israel, and that more than 50 had been intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome missile defence system. Five soldiers were wounded in one rocket attack, the military said, without specifying the location.

Local journalists say they saw Hamas fighters summarily execute six people on Tuesday afternoon for being Israeli informers.

One eyewitness told AFP news agency: “Gunmen in a minibus pulled up in the neighborhood, pushed six men out and shot them without leaving the vehicle.”

President Mohammed Mursi said Israel’s “aggression” against Gaza would end on Tuesday and Egypt’s mediation efforts would produce “positive results” shortly, the official Mena news agency reported.

The content of the Egyptian plan is not known, but both Israel and Hamas have presented conditions.

Egypt’s President Mohammed Mursi, who is leading mediation efforts between Hamas and Israel, says he expects Israeli forces to end air strikes on Gaza later on Tuesday

Egypt’s President Mohammed Mursi, who is leading mediation efforts between Hamas and Israel, says he expects Israeli forces to end air strikes on Gaza later on Tuesday

Israel’s demands include no hostile fire of any kind from Gaza and international efforts to prevent Hamas from rearming, while Hamas is demanding an end to the blockade on Gaza and “Israel’s assassinations”.

Israeli troops are massed along the border, raising fears of a ground offensive similar to that of 2008-09. An Israeli spokesman said: “Israel wants talks to succeed but we’re prepared to go into Gaza.”

In a rare appearance, top Hamas military commander Mohammed Deif said: “The enemy should know that it will pay a heavy price for its heinous crimes against our people.”

He added that a ground invasion would “be the starting point for a new phase of the struggle of liberation”.

Hillary Clinton is due in Israel for crisis talks later on Tuesday. She will underline that “the best way to solve this is through diplomacy”, said Barack Obama’s Deputy National Security Adviser, Ben Rhodes.

During the previous night, the Israeli military said it had carried out about 100 strikes, mainly on smuggling tunnels and underground rocket-launching facilities. Hamas officials say seven people were killed.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon met Arab League Chief Nabil al-Arabi in Cairo on Tuesday, before heading for talks in Israel.

“I’m here to appeal personally for an end to the violence and to offer my ongoing efforts to achieve a ceasefire,” Ban Ki-moon told a joint news conference in Cairo.

Ban Ki-moon warned against a ground operation in Gaza.

“Further escalating the situation will put the entire region at risk,” he said.

Egypt has been trying to broker a ceasefire with the help of Qatar and Turkey. Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and Arab foreign ministers are expected to visit Gaza on Tuesday.

Hamas seized control of Gaza in 2007, a year after winning a decisive victory in general elections. Israel withdrew from the strip in 2005 but maintains a blockade around it.

Israel, as well as the United States and the European Union, regards Hamas as a terrorist organization.

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Fresh clashes have broken out in the Egyptian capital Cairo in the worst violence since President Mohammed Mursi took office at the end of June.

Scores of people were reported injured as supporters and opponents of Mohammed Mursi fought in Tahrir Square.

Tensions are high after Egyptian judges criticized Mohammed Mursi’s attempt to remove the country’s top prosecutor.

It follows the acquittal of 24 people accused of attacks on protesters during last year’s uprising.

Witnesses said a rally critical of the president was taking place in Tahrir Square on Friday when a crowd of his supporters stormed their stage.

Fighting broke out and protesters pelted each other with stones, bottles and petrol bombs.

The Health Ministry put the number of injured at 110, state TV said.

As darkness fell at least two buses, believed to belong to the Muslim Brotherhood which backs Mohammed Mursi, were seen on fire near the square.

An urgent screen caption on Egypt’s state-run Channel 1 TV read: “Muslim Brotherhood group denounces regrettable incidents in Tahrir Square, calls on its members to withdraw from the square.”

In unrest elsewhere, protesters in Egypt’s northern industrial town of Mahalla stormed the headquarters of the Muslim Brotherhood and tore down pictures of President Mursi, security officials said.

100 days into his term, this is the first time President Mohammed Mursi has experienced big demonstrations against him.

However, it is not clear how much it represents wider discontent with the Muslim Brotherhood and the government.

Egyptians are frustrated that so far the new president appears to have done little to change the country or boost the economy.

Opponents are also angry at Egypt’s proposed new constitution, which they see as too dominated by Islam.

Earlier, a group of Egyptian judges criticized President Mohammed Mursi’s attempt to remove the country’s top prosecutor as a “farce”.

The president said he was reassigning Prosecutor-General Abdel Maguid Mahmoud – regarded as a figure from the era of ousted President Hosni Mubarak – as Vatican envoy.

Abdel Maguid Mahmoud is refusing to go.

The move against Abdel Maguid Mahmoud followed an angry public response to the acquittal of the 24 people who had been accused of sending men on camels and horses to break up a protest in Cairo in 2011, leaving several people dead.

Those accused included Fathi Sorour and Safwat al-Sherif, former speakers of Egypt’s two houses of parliament.

Prosecutors said Safwat al-Sherif, who was also the secretary general of Mubarak’s National Democratic Party (NPD), had “contacted MPs, members of the NDP and financiers of the party, inciting them to disperse the protests in Tahrir Square by force and violence”.

The case is the latest flashpoint between Mohammed Mursi’s government and figures associated with the Mubarak era.

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Egypt’s President Mohammed Mursi has told a summit of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) in Iran that the Syrian uprising is a “revolution against an oppressive regime”.

Mohammed Mursi, who is making the first visit to Iran by an Egyptian leader since 1979, said the movement had an “ethical duty” to support the uprising.

His comments sparked a walkout by the Syrian delegation.

Syria’s Foreign Minister Walid Muallem said Mr Mursi’s speech “incites continued bloodshed in Syria”.

Egypt has been holding the rotating NAM presidency and Mohammed Mursi was handing the duty over to Iran during his visit.

He used his speech to tell delegates of the 120-member body: “Our solidarity with the struggle of the Syrian people against an oppressive regime that has lost its legitimacy is an ethical duty, as it is a political and strategic necessity.

“We all have to announce our full solidarity with the struggle of those seeking freedom and justice in Syria, and translate this sympathy into a clear political vision that supports a peaceful transition to a democratic system of rule that reflects the demands of the Syrian people for freedom.”

Egypt's President Mohammed Mursi has told Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) summit in Iran that the Syrian uprising is a revolution against an oppressive regime

Egypt's President Mohammed Mursi has told Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) summit in Iran that the Syrian uprising is a revolution against an oppressive regime

He compared the anti-government movement in Syrian to the Palestinians, saying they were both “actively seeking freedom, dignity and human justice”, and said Egypt was “ready to work with all to stop the bloodshed”.

Tehran’s hope for the summit was to show the West the Islamic Republic had plenty of friends elsewhere, but Mohammed Mursi’s comments would certainly have upset the hosts.

However, he says not everyone in Iran would have noticed, as one Iranian state TV channel mistranslated Mohammed Mursi’s words into Persian, giving the impression that president was actually speaking in support of the Syrian government.

Syria’s delegation walked out of the conference room when Mohammed Mursi began speaking, Egyptian and Syrian media reported. Iranian media said they had simply left to conduct an interview.

Walid Muallem said Mohammed Mursi’s comments “violated the traditions of the summit and are considered interference in Syrian internal affairs”.

He accused Mohammed Mursi of “inciting continued bloodshed in Syria”.

Mohammed Mursi’s visit was the first by an Egyptian leader to Iran since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, when Iran cut ties with President Anwar Sadat’s administration over its signing of a peace treaty with Israel.

After his speech, Mohammed Mursi met Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian said the presidents had discussed bilateral ties and “emphasized the need to solve the Syria crisis via diplomacy and to prevent foreign intervention”.

Mohammed Mursi left Tehran shortly afterwards, Iranian media said.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who is attending the summit, said Syria was facing a long-term civil war, and warned that “those who provide arms to either side in Syria are contributing to the misery”.

“The situation cannot be resolved with the blood and the bodies of more than 18,000 people and counting. There should be no more bullets and bombs. I urge all parties in the strongest possible terms to stop the violence now,” he said.

Ban Ki-moon’s acceptance of Tehran’s invitation to the summit was described by the US State Department as “strange”, but the South Korean has not shied from drawing attention to the Iran’s human rights record, telling a press conference he had “serious concerns”.

Nuclear disarmament is also on the agenda of the talks and in his speech to delegates on Thursday, Ayatollah Khamenei said that, contrary to the view held in the West, Iran was “never seeking nuclear weapons”.

He said such weapons were “a major and unforgivable sin”, but that Iran would “never give up the right to peaceful nuclear energy”.

The ayatollah also criticized the “illogical” structure of the United Nations Security Council, saying it enabled the US to impose its “bullying manner” on the world, Reuters reports.

“The UN Security Council has an irrational, unjust and utterly undemocratic structure, and this is an overt dictatorship,” he said.

Ban Ki-moon responded to the ayatollah’s statement by calling on Iran to build confidence in its nuclear ambitions by co-operating fully with the Security Council over its nuclear programme.

He also rebuked Tehran for its hostility towards Israel, saying: “I strongly reject threats by any member states to destroy another or outrageous attempt to deny historical facts such as the Holocaust, claiming that another state, Israel, does not have the right to exist or describing it in racist terms.”

 

Egypt’s President Mohammed Mursi has ordered the retirement of the powerful head of the country’s armed forces, Field Marshal Mohamad Hussein Tantawi, a presidential spokesman has said.

He also said a constitutional declaration aimed at curbing presidential powers had been cancelled.

Mohammed Mursi, who was elected in June, is a member of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Relations between the Brotherhood and the military have been tense since the fall of President Hosni Mubarak.

Field Marshal Mohamad Hussein Tantawi – who has also been removed as defence minister – has not yet indicated whether he accepts the moves.

President Mohammed Mursi has ordered the retirement of the powerful head of the country's armed forces, Field Marshal Mohamad Hussein Tantawi

President Mohammed Mursi has ordered the retirement of the powerful head of the country's armed forces, Field Marshal Mohamad Hussein Tantawi

Presidential spokesman Yasser Ali said a career army officer, General Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, would replace Field Marshal Mohamad Hussein Tantawi.

The president’s intervention is clearly an attempt to take decisive action in his tug of war for control with the armed forces.

Under the interim constitutional declaration issued before Mohammed Mursi was sworn in, the president cannot rule on matters related to the military – including appointing its leaders.

The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), which issued the declaration, also dissolved parliament, which is dominated by the president’s Islamist allies.

As head of the SCAF, Field Marshal Mohamad Hussein Tantawi became Egypt’s interim ruler after President Mubarak was ousted following mass protests in February last year.

Sunday’s presidential announcement also said armed forces chief of staff Sami Annan was retiring.

The spokesman said Gen Annan and Field Marshal Mohamad Hussein Tantawi had been appointed as presidential advisers and were given Egypt’s highest state honor, the Grand Collar of the Nile.

Tensions between the Egyptian presidency and the military have been exacerbated since Islamist militants in the Sinai peninsula killed 16 border guards in a raid last week.

Both sides have tried to use the incident to strengthen their position.

 

Egypt’s new government is due to be officially announced and sworn in by President Mohammed Mursi, who took office last month.

Media reports suggest Prime Minister-designate Hisham Qandil’s government will be mostly technocrats, with at least two ministers from the previous government and a few Islamists.

Former military ruler Mohammed Hussein Tantawi is set to be defence minister.

Hisham Qandil has said “competence” would be the sole criterion for appointments.

Speaking last week, he said he wanted “all political forces and the people of Egypt to support us in this difficult mission”, highlighting economic and social challenges.

President Mohammed Mursi has been criticized for the time he has taken to name a prime minister and form a government since taking office in June.

His nomination of Hisham Qandil, the outgoing water resources minister, surprised many observers, who had been expecting a well-known figure.

Mohammed Mursi’s nomination of Hisham Qandil as Egypt’s prime minister, the outgoing water resources minister, surprised many observers, who had been expecting a well-known figure

Mohammed Mursi’s nomination of Hisham Qandil as Egypt’s prime minister, the outgoing water resources minister, surprised many observers, who had been expecting a well-known figure

On Wednesday, state media reported that the prime minister-designate had told Foreign Minister Mohammed Kamal Amr and Finance Minister Mumtaz al-Said that they would keep their posts.

Maj-Gen Ahmed Jamal al-Din, the current assistant interior minister for security, was meanwhile asked to be interior minister, it added.

“Given the circumstances that have been taking place in the country the coming period will need us all – the government and the people – to work together to maintain stability,” the general told reporters in Cairo.

Officials also said Field Marshal Mohammed Hussein Tantawi, the head of the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), would be defence minister, in line with an interim constitutional declaration issued after June’s presidential election run-off.

The SCAF assumed presidential powers after Hosni Mubarak was forced to step down as president in February 2011. Its declaration and decision to dissolve parliament only days before caused outrage and overshadowed the nominal transfer of power to President Mohammed Mursi on 30 June.

Of the 18 ministers named so far by state media, two are members of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), which Mohammed Mursi used to lead.

Mustafa Musaad, who was responsible for educational policies during the president’s election campaign, will become education minister, while Tariq Wafiq, head of the FJP’s housing committee, will be housing minister.

Another key post, the minister of religious endowments (Awqaf), went Osama al-Abd, the president of al-Azhar University. There had been speculation that an ultraconservative Salafist cleric, Mohammed Yusri Ibrahim, would be appointed.

 

Hillary Clinton has met the head of Egypt’s top military council, Field Marshal Mohamad Hussein Tantawi, on the second day of her visit to the country.

The US Secretary of State discussed the transition of power to newly elected President Mohammed Mursi and stressed the need to protect the rights of all Egyptians, US officials said.

Hillary Clinton met Mohammed Mursi on Saturday.

Mohammed Mursi and the military have been in conflict over parliament’s dissolution.

The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) shut down the chamber, dominated by Mohammed Mursi’s Islamist allies, before he was formally sworn in last month.

Hillary Clinton has met the head of Egypt's top military council, Field Marshal Mohamad Hussein Tantawi

Hillary Clinton has met the head of Egypt's top military council, Field Marshal Mohamad Hussein Tantawi

It also stripped the new president, elected in the country’s first freely contested leadership vote earlier in June, of many of his powers.

Mohammed Mursi, of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party, tried to reinstate parliament by decree last weekend. The Supreme Constitutional Court has said the dissolution is final.

As head of the SCAF, Field Marshal Mohamad Hussein Tantawi became Egypt’s interim ruler after the fall of President Hosni Mubarak in February last year.

Hillary Clinton held talks for more than an hour on Sunday with Field Marshal Mohamad Hussein Tantawi.

A senior US state department official said: “They discussed the political transition and the [military council’s] ongoing dialogue with President Mursi.

“The secretary stressed the importance of protecting the rights of all Egyptians, including women and minorities.”

Field Marshal Mohamad Hussein Tantawi brought up Egypt’s economic needs, while the pair also discussed US aid plans.

After meeting Field Marshal Mohamad Hussein Tantawi and other army leaders, Hillary Clinton will head to Egypt’s second city, Alexandria, a stronghold of the Muslim Brotherhood.

There she will meet leading women, the Coptic Christian community and young entrepreneurs. She is then due to fly on to Israel.

During her meeting with Mohammed Mursi on Saturday, Hillary Clinton said the situation required “compromise and real politics”.

“Democracy is hard,” she said.

She praised Egypt’s military council for its interim leadership, “for representing the Egyptian people in the revolution as compared to what we are seeing in Syria which is the military murdering their own people”.

But she also voiced support for a “full transition to civilian rule”.

The secretary of state also encouraged President Mohammed Mursi to live up to promises to protect the rights of women and minorities, and to preserve the peace treaty with Israel.

The hour-long meeting between President Mohammed Mursi and Hillary Clinton was described by a US official as candid and cordial.

However, on Saturday evening hundreds of demonstrators gathered outside Hillary Clinton’s Cairo hotel, chanting anti-Islamist and anti-US slogans in protest at her visit. Some brandished posters depicting the field marshal.

Another protest outside the US embassy was organized by Coptic Christian youth activists, who chanted: “They both can’t be trusted, not the Americans, not the Brotherhood.”

For all the US fears of an Islamist takeover in recent decades, the governments in Washington and Egypt have now realized they need each other.

Mohammed Mursi and the Muslim Brotherhood are particularly keen to avoid the sort of international isolation so damaging to other Islamist governments after they have taken office.

 

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has held her first meeting with new Egypt’s President Mohammed Mursi.

After the talks, Hillary Clinton reaffirmed Washington’s support for a “full transition to civilian rule” in Egypt.

President Mohammed Mursi has become embroiled in a constitutional crisis after trying to reinstate a parliament dissolved by the judiciary and the military.

Hillary Clinton has backed Mohammed Mursi, saying Egyptians should get the government they voted for.

Mohammed Mursi, of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party, was elected in June in the country’s first ever freely contested leadership vote.

Hillary Clinton has held her first meeting with new Egypt’s President Mohammed Mursi

Hillary Clinton has held her first meeting with new Egypt’s President Mohammed Mursi

After the meeting in Cairo, Hillary Clinton told reporters: “I have come to Cairo to reaffirm the strong support of the United States for the Egyptian people and their democratic transition.

“We want to be a good partner and we want to support the democracy that has been achieved by the courage and sacrifice of the Egyptian people.”

Not many years ago, one US secretary of state declared that Washington did not speak with the Muslim Brotherhood, and never would.

But the administration of Barack Obama has been quick to engage with the new president – a case of accepting the inevitable and trying to make the best of it.

The US government wants to see Egyptian democracy and human rights being protected.

The Muslim Brotherhood has repeatedly stressed it does not want to be isolated internationally, not least because the country depends so heavily on international trade and tourism.

Mohammed Mursi has tried to defuse the row over parliament – a body he tried to reinstate by decree last weekend.

The chamber was dominated by Mohammed Mursi’s Islamist allies, and was shut down by the military before he took power.

The Supreme Constitutional Court has said the dissolution is final.

Mohammed Mursi has said he is “committed to the rulings of Egyptian judges and very keen to manage state powers and prevent any confrontation”.

Hillary Clinton said she would meet the head of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), Field Marshal Mohammed Hussein Tantawi, on Sunday.

He became the country’s interim ruler after the fall of President Hosni Mubarak in February last year.

Asked what she would tell Field Marshal Tantawi, Hillary Clinton said she would make clear the US supports the return of the armed forced “to a purely military role”.

Earlier this week, Hillary Clinton said Egyptians should “get what they protested for and what they voted for, which is a fully-elected government making the decisions for the country going forward”.

Hillary Clinton arrived in Egypt from a week-long trip to Asia, and will later visit Israel.

 

 

Egypt’ Supreme Court has overturned a decree by President Mohammed Mursi to recall parliament.

Mohammed Mursi had issued the decree in defiance of a military council ruling that dissolved parliament.

Members of parliament gathered for a brief session earlier in the day before the ruling of the Supreme Constitutional Court was announced.

Hundreds have gathered in Cairo’s Tahrir Square to protest against the court’s latest decision.

Protesters chanted slogans calling the decision “illegitimate” and denouncing the military, reports say.

The same court sparked the current impasse last month, when it said the parliamentary election was null and void because of flaws in the law setting it up.

Egypt' Supreme Court has overturned a decree by President Mohammed Mursi to recall parliament

Egypt' Supreme Court has overturned a decree by President Mohammed Mursi to recall parliament

The Muslim Brotherhood party – Mohammed Mursi’s power base – has the biggest bloc of seats in the parliament, and the current political impasse is seen by analysts as being part of a power struggle between the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) and the party.

Members of parliament met for their brief session before it was adjourned by Speaker Saad al-Katatni.

Saad al-Katatni said that by holding the assembly, MPs were not contradicting the dissolution ruling “but looking at a mechanism for the implementation of the ruling of the respected court. There is no other agenda today”.

The MPs approved Saad al-Katatni’s proposal that the parliament seek legal advice from a high appeals court on how to implement the supreme court’s ruling on the election.

Some non-Islamist MPs boycotted the session, criticizing Mohammed Mursi for what they said was an attack on the judiciary.

The liberal Free Egyptians party said Mohammed Mursi’s “violation of the Supreme Court’s decision” represented a “challenge to the legitimacy of his own rule”, as the president had taken his oath of office in front of the court.

The SCAF said it was confident “all state institutions” would respect the law and constitution.

The dissolution of parliament took place the day before Mohammed Mursi was elected in Egypt’s first ever free presidential poll.

It is unclear how events will unfold as the situation – with the new president elected without a new constitution having been drafted – is unprecedented, analysts say.

At the same time as dissolving parliament, the SCAF also issued a constitutional declaration stripping the president of any authority over the military, giving itself legislative powers and the power to veto the as-yet-undrafted constitution.

 

Egyptian parliament has briefly convened, despite the ruling military council ordering it to be dissolved.

President Mohammed Mursi had ordered the assembly to meet in defiance of the ruling.

Earlier, the council said the decision to dissolve parliament must be upheld. The military closed parliament last month after a supreme court ruling.

Its latest intervention is seen by some as a challenge and warning to Mohammed Mursi, who was sworn in only a week ago.

It could be the first confrontation between the military and the president since Mohammed Mursi’s election.

Speaker Saad al-Katatni said by holding the assembly, MPs were not contradicting the ruling, “but looking at a mechanism for the implementation of the ruling of the respected court. There is no other agenda today,” he added.

The MPs approved Saad al-Katatni’s proposal that the parliament seek legal advice from a high appeals court on how to implement the supreme court’s ruling. He then adjourned the session.

The demonstration that was due to be held in Tahrir Square in defiance of the military’s decision does not seem to have gone ahead.

Egyptian parliament has briefly convened, despite the ruling military council ordering it to be dissolved

Egyptian parliament has briefly convened, despite the ruling military council ordering it to be dissolved

The Muslim Brotherhood – Mohammed Mursi’s power base, which has the biggest bloc of seats in parliament – had said it would participate on Tuesday “in a million-man march in support of the president’s decision and reinstating parliament”.

The military council said it was confident “all state institutions” would respect the law and constitution.

It is unclear how events will unfold as the situation – with the new president elected without a new constitution being drafted, and the parliament theoretically dissolved – is unprecedented, analysts say.

The statement from the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) will infuriate the Muslim Brotherhood.

Members of the Brotherhood believe it was the military that failed to respect the law by giving itself new powers after dissolving parliament last month.

Earlier on Monday, the Supreme Constitutional Court rejected the decree issued by Mohammed Mursi the day before to reconvene the Islamist-dominated parliament.

The court said its 14 June ruling – that the law governing Egypt’s first democratic elections in more than six decades was unconstitutional because party members were allowed to contest seats in the lower house reserved for independents – was binding and final.

As the court had not itself ordered the dissolution of parliament, Mohammed Mursi was not directly challenging a court order.

No mention was made of the court’s ruling in the decree. And presidential spokesman Yasir Ali argued Mohammed Mursi had been quite legitimate in suspending the dissolution until new parliamentary elections took place within 60 days of a new constitution being ratified.

Despite the apparent tensions, the president and Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, who heads SCAF, appeared together at a military cadet graduation ceremony on Monday.

The president’s order has not, however, been welcomed by political rivals.

Former presidential candidate Abdul Moneim Aboul Fotouh said Mohammed Mursi’s decision a subtle way out of that confrontation.

“Respect for the popular will by restoring the elected parliament and respect for the judiciary by holding parliamentary elections is the way out of this crisis,” he wrote on Twitter.

Liberal MP Mohammed Abu Hamed urged SCAF to challenge what he called “this constitutional coup”.

The constitutional court is due to hear a number of appeals against the decree on Tuesday, reports say.

Mohammed Mursi won the country’s first free presidential election last month, and army chiefs formally handed over power on 30 June.

Before Mohammed Mursi’s inauguration, the military granted itself sweeping powers.

The commanders’ constitutional declaration stripped the president of any authority over the military, gave military chiefs legislative powers, and the power to veto the new constitution, which has yet to be drafted.

Who holds the power in Egypt?

Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF)

The interim constitutional declaration of 17 June gives the SCAF complete legislative power until a new parliament is elected and gives it a strong voice in the constitution-writing process. The decree makes the military free from civilian oversight, and gives the SCAF control of military affairs and the budget.

President

On paper, the president has authority over administrative and domestic affairs. He will appoint the cabinet – with the exception of the defense minister, which is reserved for the head of the SCAF. The president chairs the re-established National Defense Council, but the military has a majority.

Parliament

The SCAF dissolved the lower house, the People’s Assembly, after the Supreme Constitutional Court found the election law unconstitutional. New elections will take place a month after the new constitution is approved, effectively suspending parliament until then. It is unclear whether the upper house, the Shura Council, is affected.

Supreme Constitutional Court

The court decides cases in which the constitutionality of a law or regulation is challenged. Its current president, Farouq Sultan, who is set to retire this summer, was appointed by Hosni Mubarak. His successor was selected by the court.

 

Supreme Constitutional Court in Egypt, which dissolved the parliament last month, is due to discuss how to respond to President Mohammed Mursi’s order to reconvene it.

The speaker of the dissolved house has called for it to meet on Tuesday.

Military and judicial authorities have held emergency talks, but have not announced any action so far.

Mohammed Mursi, whose Muslim Brotherhood won most seats, said the chamber should reconvene until a new election is held.

Military police are keeping the area around the parliament building sealed.

Egypt’s Supreme Constitutional Court is due to discuss how to respond to President Mohammed Mursi's order to reconvene parliament dissolution

Egypt’s Supreme Constitutional Court is due to discuss how to respond to President Mohammed Mursi's order to reconvene parliament dissolution

It is not clear when or how MPs are expected to reconvene.

MPs would first have to get past a line of police and military guards who have been preventing them from entering the parliament building – or they could meet elsewhere.

The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) – which has assumed legislative power – met in an emergency session shortly after the presidential decree was issued on Sunday.

It is due to hold another meeting.

The military had enforced a court order last month dissolving parliament because party members had contested seats reserved for independents.

The SCAF took over the reins of power last year, after the revolution that ended former President Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year rule.

The army move was initially welcomed by many of the anti-government protesters, but its presence became increasingly unpopular as critics accused its leaders of wanting to hold on to power.

Mohammed Mursi won the country’s first free presidential election last month, and army chiefs formally handed over power on 30 June.

But before his inauguration, the military had granted itself sweeping powers.

The commanders’ constitutional declaration stripped the president of any authority over the military, gave military chiefs legislative powers, and the power to veto the new constitution, which has yet to be drafted.

In his presidential decree, Mohammed Mursi said new parliamentary elections would be held 60 days after the constitution had been agreed by referendum, the decree said.

The Muslim Brotherhood has consistently opposed the decision to dissolve parliament.

But analysts say it is unclear whether the president has the authority to reinstate the assembly.

If there was a political truce in Egypt, it could soon be over – unless this is part of a more complicated deal, under which parliament would meet briefly then be dissolved by the president.

 

Bloomberg: Egypt’s President Mohamed Mursi Reinstates Parliament

President Mohammed Mursi has ordered Egyptian parliament to reconvene, a month after it was dissolved.

The Supreme Court had ruled parliament unconstitutional as party members contested seats reserved for independents. The military, then running the country, enforced the move.

But Mohammed Mursi, whose Muslim Brotherhood won most seats, said the chamber should reconvene until a new election is held.

His decision will be seen as a direct challenge to the army, analysts say.

President Mohammed Mursi has ordered Egyptian parliament to reconvene, a month after it was dissolved

President Mohammed Mursi has ordered Egyptian parliament to reconvene, a month after it was dissolved

Mohammed Mursi was installed as the country’s first freely elected president last month.

The military had taken over the reins of power after the revolution that ended strongman Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year rule last year.

The army move was initially welcomed by many of the protesters, but became increasingly unpopular as critics accused its leaders of wanting to hold on to power.

Army chiefs formally handed power to Mohammed Mursi on 30 June, but before his election they granted themselves sweeping powers.

A constitutional declaration stripped the president of any authority over the military, gave military chiefs legislative powers, and ordered that the military would install a panel to frame new constitution.

However, in his presidential decree, Mohammed Mursi said the recalled parliament would frame a new constitution.

A new election would be held 60 days after the constitution had been agreed by referendum, the decree said.

On a speech on the day of his inauguration, Mohammed Mursi said parliament had been elected in a free and fair vote.

“The army is now returning to its original role, protecting the nation and its borders,” he said.

 

Yahoo! News: Egypt’s president orders dissolved parliament back to work

Mohammed Mursi, Egypt’s first democratically-elected president, has started forming a government, after promising to be a leader for all Egyptians.

World leaders have congratulated the Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate, who defeated ex-PM Ahmed Shafiq.

Mohammed Mursi could be sworn in on 30 June, although questions remain over the extent of his authority.

The ruling military council has taken control of many of the president’s powers and has dissolved parliament.

Mohammed Mursi on Monday moved to the presidential office to begin consultations on his cabinet.

Campaign spokeswoman Nermine Mohammed Hassan told Agence France-Presse: “He has already started with a list of names he is considering. He says he will declare the cabinet soon.”

Mohammed Mursi’s priorities will be the battered economy, a deteriorating security situation and the drawing up of the new constitution, correspondents say.

The cabinet appointed by the ruling military is expected to resign on Monday and assume caretaker duties, until Mohammed Mursi’s team takes office.

Mohammed Mursi, Egypt's first democratically-elected president, has started forming a government, after promising to be a leader for all Egyptians

Mohammed Mursi, Egypt's first democratically-elected president, has started forming a government, after promising to be a leader for all Egyptians

It appears that Mohammed Mursi is having discussions with Nobel Peace Prize winner Mohamed ElBaradei for the role of prime minister, which would provide reassurance to non-Islamists.

Mohammed Mursi, 60, has promised to appoint a range of vice presidents and a cabinet of “all the talents”.

Shares on Egypt’s main EGX30 index soared on Monday in the first trading since the results were announced, sparking a half-hour suspension. The halt in trading is triggered by a mechanism designed to prevent market fluctuations greater than 5%.

Gains continued on the restart, with the EGX30 on the Egyptian Exchange closing 7.6% up.

In his victory speech on Sunday, Mohammed Mursi urged Egyptians “to strengthen our national unity” and promised an inclusive presidency.

“There is no room now for the language of confrontation,” he said, after the election authorities declared that he had won 51.73% in the 16-17 June presidential run-off.

On hearing the news of his victory, tens of thousands of Muslim Brotherhood supporters cheered in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, chanting, “Down with military rule!”.

Celebrations continued until the early hours of Monday morning, although some protesters remained in the square, saying they would not leave until parliament was reinstated.

Mohammed Mursi paid tribute to the protesters who died in last year’s uprising against former President Hosni Mubarak but also praised the role of Egypt’s powerful armed forces.

“The revolution goes on, carries on until all the objectives of the revolution are achieved and together we will complete this march,” he said.

He also said he would honor international treaties.

Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, Egypt’s military ruler, was among the first to congratulate him on his victory.

The question remains how much real power Mohammed Mursi will have when he swears the oath of office.

He will not have a sitting parliament or a permanent constitution to define his powers or duties.

And the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), which has led Egypt since last year’s revolution, has issued a series of recent decrees.

• The justice ministry gave soldiers the right to arrest civilians for trial in military courts until the ratification of a new constitution

• A decree was issued dissolving parliament after a court ruling that the law on elections to the lower house of parliament was invalid

• The SCAF granted itself legislative powers and reinforced its role in the drafting of a permanent constitution

• Field Marshal Tantawi announced the re-establishment of a National Defence Council, putting the generals in charge of Egypt’s national security policy

Because of the dissolution of parliament, it is unclear where the new president will take his oath of office.

The Muslim Brotherhood has been seeking a partial recall of parliament so that he is sworn in before MPs. However, the Mena news agency quoted a Muslim Brotherhood spokesman as saying the oath would be taken before the Supreme Constitutional Court.

Responding to Mohammed Mursi’s election, the White House called the result “a milestone for Egypt’s transition to democracy”.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday: “We expect to work together with the new administration on the basis of our peace treaty.”

There was confusion over an alleged interview quoted by Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency. Fars said Mohammed Mursi planned to expand relations with Iran to “create a balance of pressure in the region”, but his spokesman denied the interview had taken place.

 

Higher Presidential Election Commission in Egypt has declared the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohammed Mursi as the winner of presidential election run-off.

Mohammed Mursiwon 51.73% of the vote, beating former PM Ahmed Shafiq, the Higher Presidential Election Commission said.

The head of the panel of judges, Farouq Sultan, said it had upheld some of the 466 complaints by the candidates, but that the election result still stood.

The announcement prompted scenes of jubilation in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, where Mohammed Mursi’s supporters gathered.

They have been maintaining a vigil there for days in protest at the series of decrees by the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) which they say are designed to reduce or constrain the power of the president, and entrench the power of the military.

Supporters of Ahmed Shafiq had also been holding a rally in the capital’s northern suburb of Nasser City, home of the headquarters of the election commission.

Judge Farouq Sultan began the news conference by saying the declaration of the result had been “marred by tension and a bad atmosphere”.

“The commission applied the law when it looked into the ballots. There is nothing above the law,” he asserted.

Higher Presidential Election Commission in Egypt has declared the Muslim Brotherhood's Mohammed Mursi as the winner of presidential election run-off

Higher Presidential Election Commission in Egypt has declared the Muslim Brotherhood's Mohammed Mursi as the winner of presidential election run-off

The judge then dismissed what he said had been the two most serious complaints of electoral violations – that some ballots had been printed with the name of one candidate already ticked, and that Christians had been prevented from voting in a village in Minya governorate.

He then spent several minutes announcing minor amendments to the vote tallies before suddenly revealing that Mohammed Mursi had won 13,230,131 votes, compared with Ahmed Shafiq’s total of 12,347,380, or 48.27%.

The turnout in last weekend voting was 51.58%, he added.

As Judge Farouq Sultan announced the victory of Mohammed Mursi, who is chairman of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), huge cheers erupted in Tahrir Square.

Tens of thousands of his supporters, as well as those of ultra-conservative Salafist groups, had gathered there to listen to the result on big screens.

Many had camped out overnight to protest against what Islamists, secularists and youth activists have denounced as a military coup.

On 13 June, the justice ministry gave soldiers the right to arrest civilians for trial in military courts until the ratification of a new constitution.

The SCAF then issued a decree on Friday dissolving parliament in line with a Supreme Constitutional Court ruling that the law on elections to the lower house was invalid because party members had been allowed to contest seats reserved for independents.

Two days later, just as the polls were closing in the run-off, the generals issued an interim constitutional declaration that granted them legislative powers and reinforced their role in the drafting of a permanent constitution. The military was also exempted from civilian oversight.

Then on Monday, the head of the SCAF, Field Marshal Mohammed Hussein Tantawi, announced the re-establishment of a National Defence Council, putting the generals in charge of Egypt’s national security policy.

The generals have vowed to hand over power to the new president by 30 June, but their decision to dissolve parliament means he could take office without the oversight of a sitting legislature and without a permanent constitution to define his powers or duties.

 

Thousands of people are gathering in Cairo’s Tahrir Square to protest against a decision by the ruling military council to assume new powers.

The protests have been called by the Muslim Brotherhood, as it claims its candidate Mohammed Mursi won last weekend’s presidential election.

His rival, former PM Ahmed Shafiq, also says he has won.

As Egyptians voted, the generals dissolved parliament and claimed all legislative power for themselves.

Correspondents say the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) appears to be working on the assumption that Mohammed Mursi will win, and making moves designed to reduce or constrain the power of the president and entrench its own.

Activists have described the moves as a “military coup”.

Demonstrators have been chanting slogans against the military council, in the same square where huge protests last year led to the fall of President Hosni Mubarak.

Thousands of people are gathering in Cairo's Tahrir Square to protest against a decision by the ruling military council to assume new powers

Thousands of people are gathering in Cairo's Tahrir Square to protest against a decision by the ruling military council to assume new powers

Youth activists and liberals, many of whom refused to take part in the election run-off, are also involved in the protests.

“[The election is] not totally stolen, but they have put some obstacles to fully transfer the power of the revolution and the voice of the street, and the voice of the critical mass to rule the country,” said one protester.

There are plenty of Egyptians who seem to be reconciled to the prospect of the military continuing to exercise power because they fear that otherwise the Muslim Brotherhood might turn their secular society into something resembling the theocracy of Iran.

Earlier the Muslim Brotherhood claimed victory in the election.

A spokesman for its Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) announced its chairman, Mohammed Mursi, had received 51.74%, compared with former Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq, who he said had 48.26%.

The Higher Presidential Election Commission (HPEC) is scheduled to announce the official results on Thursday, but it usually shares them with the candidates beforehand to give them a chance to make objections.

The results tally with what Egyptian media and independent observers have been reporting, and the FJP’s own calculations, which it released on Monday.

However, Ahmed Shafiq’s campaign vigorously denied its candidate had lost.

In a news conference shown on Egyptian television, representatives of Ahmed Shafiq’s campaign said the papers that Mohammed Mursi’s campaign referred to did not come officially from the HPEC, and insisted that Shafiq was ahead in the tally.

“We are willing to do whatever necessary at a legal level to prove he’s the next president,” Ahmed Shafiq campaign spokesman Karim Salem said.

Voting over the weekend to choose a successor to Hosni Mubarak, who was forced to step down by last year’s uprising, was overshadowed by two SCAF decrees.

The first ordered the immediate dissolution of parliament following Thursday’s Supreme Constitutional Court ruling that the law governing the recent elections for the lower house was unconstitutional because party members had been allowed to contest seats in the lower house reserved for independents.

Troops were deployed outside the parliament building before the decree was issued on Saturday to prevent MPs gaining access. The FJP and the ultraconservative Salafist Nour party dominate both chambers.

The second decree, which was published after the polls closed on Sunday, amended the March 2011 constitutional declaration and gave the generals complete control over legislation and military affairs until fresh parliamentary elections are held.

The SCAF will also play a significant role in running the 100-member assembly that will draft the country’s new constitution.

The new president – who will take office without the oversight of a parliament and without a permanent constitution to define his powers or duties – will be able to form and dismiss a government, ratify and reject laws, and declare war, but only with SCAF’s approval.

 

Egyptians are set to vote in the second round of their first free presidential election in a two-day run-off.

Mohammed Mursi, head of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party, is up against Ahmed Shafiq, Hosni Mubarak’s last prime minister.

The ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces has promised to hand over power to the winner by 1 July at the latest.

But the build-up to the election has been marred by a Supreme Constitutional Court decision to dissolve parliament.

On Thursday, a panel of judges – appointed by Hosni Mubarak – ruled that the law governing Egypt’s first democratic elections in more than six decades was unconstitutional because party members were allowed to contest seats reserved for independents.

The Freedom and Justice Party won about 100 of its 235 seats in the People’s Assembly by running candidates for individual seats.

If parliament is dissolved swiftly by the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), whoever wins this weekend’s presidential run-off could take office without the oversight of a sitting parliament, and without a permanent constitution to define his powers or duties.

Egyptians are set to vote in the second round of their first free presidential election in a two-day run-off

Egyptians are set to vote in the second round of their first free presidential election in a two-day run-off

A 100-member assembly appointed by parliament earlier this week to draft the new constitution may also be dissolved.

Islamist, liberals and scholars denounced the ruling as a “coup”, saying they feared the ruling generals would take back legislative power.

“This series of measures shows that the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, the head of the counter-revolution, is adamant to bring back the old regime and the presidential elections are merely a show,” six parties and movements said in a joint statement that also urged Mohammed Mursi to boycott the run-off.

The Supreme Constitutional Court also found a law blocking senior Mubarak-era officials from the presidency – which would have ruled out Ahmed Shafiq’s candidacy – was unconstitutional. The law was passed by parliament before the presidential election’s first round.

On Friday, the Muslim Brotherhood vowed to win the presidency despite the signs of opposition within the judiciary, which is overseeing the vote.

“Isolate the representative of the former regime through the ballot box,” said a statement referring to Ahmed Shafiq, who also served as head of the air force and minister of aviation under Hosni Mubarak.

The Brotherhood warned that the progress made since the president was forced to step down was being “wiped out and overturned”.

Egypt was facing a situation that was “even more dangerous than that in the final days of Mubarak’s rule,” the group added.

Mohammed Mursi meanwhile sought to reassure the military and its supporters within the electorate that he would work closely with the generals.

“As president, they will be in my heart and will get my attention… they will never do anything to harm the nation,” he said.

On Thursday, Mohammed Mursi warned there would be a “huge revolution against the criminals” if there was any evidence of electoral fraud.

His opponent meanwhile told a rally that the court rulings were “historic” and that the “era of political score-settling” had ended.

On Friday, Ahmed Shafiq promised to “address chaos and return stability”.

He came second in last month’s first round, in which turnout among the 52 million eligible voters was only 46%. Official results gave Mohammed Mursi 24.8% and Ahmed Shafiq 23.7%.

Polling stations are due to open on Saturday and Sunday at 08:00 and close at 19:00, but voting is likely to be extended on both days.

Final results from the Higher Presidential Election Commission (HPEC) are due by 21 June, but are expected to arrive much earlier.

Partial results from the first round were declared within 24 hours.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has called for the SCAF to transfer power fully to a democratically elected civilian administration as soon as possible following the announcement of the final result of the election.

“There can be no going back on the democratic transition called for by the Egyptian people,” she told reporters in Washington.

 

Egyptians will choose between Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate Mohammed Mursi and Ahmed Shafiq, a candidate from the Mubarak-era regime, when the presidential election goes to a run-off, state media confirm.

Mohammed Mursi has a slight lead on former PM Ahmed Shafiq with a reported 25.3% of votes against 24.9%.

The two represent forces that have battled each other for decades.

The second round in Egypt’s first free presidential polls is on 16-17 June.

Voting in the first round took place peacefully on Wednesday and Thursday.

The official results will be announced on Tuesday, but state media have been reporting tallies from polling stations around the country and have now confirmed the two frontrunners.

The vote was hailed as a historic achievement by international observers but many Egyptians – particularly supporters of the revolution – will find the choice they have been left with most unappealing.

Egyptians will choose between Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate Mohammed Mursi and Ahmed Shafiq, a candidate from the Mubarak-era regime, when the presidential election goes to a run-off

Egyptians will choose between Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate Mohammed Mursi and Ahmed Shafiq, a candidate from the Mubarak-era regime, when the presidential election goes to a run-off

A spokesman for the Muslim Brotherhood said Egypt would be “in danger” if Ahmed Shafiq won, and the group would reach out to other candidates to defeat him.

Warning of “determined efforts to recreate the old regime”, the Brotherhood urged parties that supported the uprising that overthrew Hosni Mubarak to unite around their candidate.

They have invited a range of opposition figures to a meeting on Saturday.

Both the Brotherhood and Shafiq campaigns have accused each other of “stealing” the revolution.

Ahmed Shafiq spokesman Ahmed Sarhan urged pro-revolutionaries to vote for his candidate, saying that while his programme was about “the future”, the Brotherhood’s was about “an Islamic empire”.

The polarized choice remaining in the run-off suggests Egypt could be entering a new period of confrontation.

Ahmed Khairy, spokesman for the Free Egyptians Party, a secular liberal party which emerged last year, said the outcome of the first round was “the worst possible scenario”, reported Egyptian newspaper al-Ahram.

He described Mohammed Mursi as an “Islamic fascist” and Ahmed Shafiq as a “military fascist”.

The pro-revolution vote was split, the reported results suggest, between leftist Hamdin Sabbahi (third with 21.5%) and a moderate Islamist who broke with the Brotherhood, Abdul Moneim Aboul Fotouh (fourth with about 19%).

Hamdin Sabbahi dominated in many urban areas, including Alexandria, local reports suggested.

Former Arab league chief Amr Moussa trailed in fifth place.

Mohammed Mursi and ahmed Shafiq represent very different strands of Egyptian society.

Mohammed Mursi is seen as belonging to a popular strand of political Islam that was excluded from the political process for many years under Hosni Mubarak.

Ahmed Shafiq, who served briefly as Hosni Mubarak’s prime minister, is regarded by many as a creature of the old secular regime.

Analysts say he drew his support from people fearful of an Islamist takeover, and those exhausted by the upheavals of the past 16 months.

About 50 million people were eligible to vote in the polls, in which 13 candidates were vying for the presidency.

It was the country’s first freely contested presidential election in its history, and observers said it had been conducted peacefully.

The military body that assumed presidential power in February 2011 – the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) – has promised a fair vote and civilian rule.

Until a new constitution is approved it is unclear what powers the president will have, prompting fears of friction with a military which seems determined to retain its powerful position.

Many Egyptians have grown frustrated with the pace of change in their country following the revolution, as the economy languishes, public services break down and crime levels rise.