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Moaz al-Khatib, a leading Damascus cleric who fled Syria, has been chosen at a meeting in Qatar to head a new coalition to oppose President Bashar al-Assad’s government.

Cleric Moaz al-Khatib, former Sunni Muslim imam of the Umayyad mosque in Damascus, is seen as a moderate.

Earlier, Syrian opposition groups agreed a deal to bring together their disparate factions.

The fractious opposition has been under pressure from the US and other backers in the region to clinch a deal.

Sheikh Moaz al-Khatib, 52, left Damascus for Cairo in July after several periods of detention by the Syrian authorities.

He had earlier attempted to bring the conflict to an end and in an interview with Reuters news agency in July said: “I want the Syrian people to remain as one hand.”

In a speech in Doha last month Moaz al-Khatib called for a political solution to save Syria from further destruction, arguing that negotiation would not “rescue the regime” but enable its departure with the least harm possible.

More than 36,000 people have been killed in the long-running uprising against Bashar al-Assad’s government.

Many thousands more have fled the country since the unrest began last year.

Earlier on Saturday the Israeli military said it had fired warning shots into Syria, after a mortar round from Syria hit an Israeli outpost in the occupied Golan Heights.

It was the first time the two sides have exchanged fire since the 1973 Middle East war.

Moaz al-Khatib has been chosen at a meeting in Qatar to head a new coalition to oppose Bashar al-Assad's government

Moaz al-Khatib has been chosen at a meeting in Qatar to head a new coalition to oppose Bashar al-Assad’s government

Ali Sadreddine al-Bayanouni, a Muslim Brotherhood delegate at the Qatar talks, said the new body would be called the National Coalition for Opposition Forces and the Syrian Revolution.

The group, formed after a week of talks in Doha, will have two vice-presidents – prominent dissident Riad Seif and leading secular activist Suhair al-Atassi.

The coalition’s leadership was set to become the face and voice of the Syrian opposition in the coming phase.

The Syrian National Council (SNC), which was formerly recognized as the main opposition, had been concerned it might be sidelined by the new opposition body.

One source at the meeting told Reuters that the SNC had agreed only under pressure and that it had been given a deadline of 10:00 a.m. to sign up or risk being left out.

The new body had been proposed by Riad Seif with the backing of the US, which had signaled its frustration with the SNC.

He confirmed on Sunday that a “12-point agreement to establish a coalition” had been sealed.

Proposals for the new body include an assembly of some 55-60 members, with a leadership that will seek international recognition as the voice of the Syrian people.

Delegates said the body would carry representation for ethnic Kurds, Christians, Alawites and women.

Bassem Said Ishak, of the SNC, said the Kurds required 48 hours to get the approval of their leadership.

The new body will also have a military council that will include the Free Syrian Army.

The backers of the new body hope it will boost the mainstream of the Syrian opposition and sideline any extremist elements.

Violence continued inside Syria on Sunday.

Opposition activists said government forces had attacked an area along the border with Turkey, after rebels had captured a crossing point.

The activists said helicopters and artillery units had bombarded the Ras al-Ain border area.

Clashes were also reported in Damascus, Albu Kamal near the Iraqi border, Irbin and in Deir Ezzor in the east.

Meanwhile, the Israeli military said the shell from Syria that hit a military post in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights was stray fire from fighting between Syrian government forces and rebels.

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu warned Israel was “ready for any development” on the border with Syria.

Israel and Syria are still technically at war, and a UN force patrols the buffer zone.

Moaz al-Khatib

  • Born 1960
  • Son of long-standing imam of Damascus’s Grand Umayyad mosque
  • Studied applied geophysics
  • Imam of Grand Umayyad mosque
  • Detained by Syrian military intelligence
  • Fled Syria for Cairo in July 2012

Mohammed al-Dahabi, Jordan’s former intelligence chief, has been sentenced to 13 years in prison for corruption.

Mohammed al-Dahabi, who was head of the intelligence service from 2005 to 2008, was accused of embezzling public funds, money laundering and abuse of office.

The court in Amman ordered him to repay nearly $30 million to the state.

Jordan’s leaders have come under pressure in recent months from street protesters demanding that corruption be tackled.

The lengthy sentence for such a high-profile figure is meant to show Jordanians that the authorities are serious about tackling the issue, observers say.

“You deserve the harshest punishment for being a traitor to the people who trusted you with a government position and state funds,” judge Nashaat Akhras told Mohammed al-Dahabi.

Mohammed al-Dahabi, Jordan's former intelligence chief, has been sentenced to 13 years in prison for corruption

Mohammed al-Dahabi, Jordan’s former intelligence chief, has been sentenced to 13 years in prison for corruption

The former spy chief was arrested in February after the Central Bank of Jordan became suspicious of the large transactions going through his account, the AP reports.

Mohammed al-Dahabi is the brother of former Prime Minister Nader al-Dahabi.

King Abdullah dissolved parliament last month in order to pave the way for early elections in response to growing calls for political reform and the end to corruption.

The king has said he is serious about reform, but one of his key opponents, the Muslim Brotherhood, is calling for the monarch’s powers to be curtailed.

 

Dozens of militiamen have occupied Libya’s parliament to register their anger over the formation of the new government.

The gunmen are demanding some of the ministers be removed because they have links to the late Muammar Gaddafi’s regime.

At least a dozen trucks mounted with anti-aircraft guns are lining the main road to the parliament.

Libya held a peaceful election in July and finally agreed the composition of a government on Wednesday.

Prime Minister Ali Zidan gained the support of the National Congress for his choice of ministers.

His list included liberal figures and Islamists in an attempt to forge a coalition acceptable to all parties.

But negotiations were disrupted by protests earlier this week.

And late on Wednesday gunmen broke through security and occupied the Congress building.

Some of the gunmen are dressed in scruffy army fatigues and others in civilian clothes.

Some are from the western city of Misrata and others are from Tripoli, and few are willing to talk to the media.

“Some of them have had long ties with Gaddafi, we don’t want them,” said a militiaman dressed in civilian clothes.

Presidential guards are stationed in the Congress complex and have been ordered not to fight with the men.

The militiamen are believed to be in talks with politicians to resolve the stand-off.

Despite largely peaceful elections in July, Libya’s transition continues to be affected by instability.

Reining in the different militia and trying to integrate them into a single national army will be one of the biggest challenges for any new government, analysts say.

The new government has representatives from the two most prominent blocs in Congress – the Alliance of National Forces led by liberal former Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril, and the Muslim Brotherhood’s Justice and Construction Party.

Ali Zidan said he had tried to strike a balance between Libya’s different regions in making the appointments.

According to his list, the defence and interior ministries would be headed by ministers from the eastern city of Benghazi, considered to be the cradle of last year’s revolution that ended Gaddafi’s rule.

Two women are also among the ministers proposed by Ali Zidan.

 

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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Barack Obama has said the United States does not currently consider Egypt to be an ally.

The president was speaking with reference to violent clashes at the US embassy in Cairo, over a US-made anti-Islamic film which has sparked anger among Muslims.

Barack Obama’s comments also came after the storming of the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya, which killed the US ambassador on Tuesday.

President Barack Obama referred to US-Egypt relations as a “work in progress”.

 

Barack Obama has said the United States does not currently consider Egypt to be an ally

Barack Obama has said the United States does not currently consider Egypt to be an ally

 

“I don’t think we would consider them an ally, but we don’t consider them an enemy. They are a new government that is trying to find its way,” Barack Obama said in a television interview with Spanish-language network Telemundo.

He said that so far Egypt’s government has “said the right thing and taken the right steps” but it has also responded to other events in ways that “may not be aligned with our interests”.

Barack Obama also said that he expected Egypt to protect the US embassy and its staff.

“If they take actions that indicate they are not taking those responsibilities, as all other countries do where we have embassies, I think that’s going to be a problem,” he said.

Egypt was a close and vital Middle East ally of the United States while ousted President Hosni Mubarak was in power.

Cairo has been key US ally since 1979 Egypt-Israel peace deal, and the US gives more than $1 billion in military aid to Egypt every year.

After last year’s uprising and the resurgence of the once-banned Muslim Brotherhood, question marks have been raised over the future of the relationship.

Angry anti-US protests have taken place across the Middle East and North Africa.

The grounds of the US embassy in the Yemeni capital Sanaa were briefly stormed by protesters on Thursday.

On Wednesday, demonstrators in Cairo angry at the film – Innocence of Muslims – breached the walls of the US embassy and tore down the flag. The clashes, which began on Tuesday, continued in the early hours of Thursday morning.

Egypt’s interior ministry says 16 people were injured overnight – 13 of them members of the security forces. Two police vehicles were burnt out and 12 protesters were arrested.

President Mohamed Mursi has appealed for calm: “I call on everyone to take that into consideration, to not violate Egyptian law… to not assault embassies.”

“I condemn and oppose all who… insult our prophet. [But] it is our duty to protect our guests and visitors from abroad,” he said in a statement broadcast by state media.

In July US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met Mohamed Mursi for the first time and reaffirmed Washington’s “strong support” for the Egyptian people and their shift to civilian rule.

 

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.

 

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.

 

Egypt is awaiting the delayed results of the presidential run-off election held last weekend.

The results are due in the coming hours, after the election commission heard appeals by the two candidates.

Mohammed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood and former Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq have both claimed victory and vowed to form unity governments.

Thousands of their supporters spent the night in the centre of Cairo amid increasing political polarization.

Correspondents say the atmosphere has been peaceful, but tense.

Many people are still apprehensive about the intentions of the ruling generals, who gave themselves sweeping new powers last week after the Supreme Constitutional Court ruled that the Islamist-dominated parliament should be dissolved.

On Friday, the Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF) called on supporters of both candidates to accept the result when it came.

Results from last weekend’s run-off were originally due out on Thursday.

The Higher Presidential Election Commission (HPEC) has said that it will announce the official results at 15:00 local time (13:00 GMT) on Sunday.

Muslim Brotherhood supporters are maintaining a vigil in the capital’s Tahrir Square, where on Friday tens of thousands of protesters gathered to denounce a series of decrees and appointments by the SCAF designed to reduce or constrain the power of the president, and entrench the power of the military.

Egypt is awaiting the delayed results of the presidential run-off election held last weekend

Egypt is awaiting the delayed results of the presidential run-off election held last weekend

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

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

Islamists, liberals and secularists said the moves amounted to a coup.

“The military must leave its political role and go back to its basic role which is protecting the country, not continuing to ruin the country and people’s affairs – this will not be accepted by the Egyptian people,” Abdel Nasser Hijab, a demonstrator in Tahrir Square, told the Associated Press.

There are fears that in the current atmosphere, the announcement of the presidential election results might only make matters worse.

A pro-Ahmed Shafiq demonstration took place on Saturday in the Nasser City neighborhood of Cairo.

“When we decided to take to the streets, we’re not just one, two or three million, we’re 80 million. The only difference is that we’re waiting for the military council to give its final word,” one Shafiq supporter, Doaa, told the Reuters news agency.

Hundreds of supporters held up pictures of Ahmed Shafiq and Field Marshal Tantawi while chanting slogans in support of the army and against the Brotherhood.

Correspondents say that there was less enthusiasm in the run-off election than there was for previous rounds of voting, and some called for a boycott or spoiled ballots.

On Tuesday, the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party announced that Mohammed Mursi, its chairman, had won with 51.74% of the vote, citing official figures from the HPEC.

Mohammed Mursi has also secured the support of several leading liberal figures and youth activists in Egypt, including Wael Ghonim, who played a key role in the uprising that forced Hosni Mubarak to step down in February 2011.

Ahmed Shafiq came second to Mohammed Mursi in last month’s first round, in which turnout among the 52 million eligible voters was only 46%.

But the former air force commander, who served briefly as former President Hosni Mubarak’s last prime minister, said on Thursday at his first public appearance since the run-off that he was confident of victory.

 

Egypt’s presidential poll results have been delayed by the election authorities, raising further tension across the country.

The results had been due to be announced on Thursday, but the election commission said it needed more time to look into complaints presented by the candidates.

The Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohammed Mursi and former PM Ahmed Shafiq both claim they won last weekend’s vote.

Thousands of opposition supporters are protesting in Cairo’s Tahrir Square.

They have gathered to demonstrate against the delay in announcing the poll result and also against the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) – the military council that has led the country since President Hosni Mubarak was ousted last year.

The Muslim Brotherhood called people into the square to voice their outrage over recent constitutional amendments which gave the SCAF sweeping political and legislative powers.

If the Muslim Brotherhood has won the election, there are doubts over whether the authorities would allow them to take power after fighting them for so many decades.

There is increasingly fevered speculation about whether the election will be cancelled or rigged, he adds.

Egypt's presidential poll results have been delayed by the election authorities, raising further tension across the country

Egypt's presidential poll results have been delayed by the election authorities, raising further tension across the country

Meanwhile, 84-year-old Hosni Mubarak remains in critical condition at an army hospital in Cairo.

He is said to have had a series of strokes and to be on a life-support machine, but there has been no official word on his condition.

Earlier this month, Hosni Mubarak was sentenced to life in prison for his role in the death of protesters during last year’s revolution.

Correspondents say there are fears that Hosni Mubarak’s failing health could be used as a distraction as Egypt awaits the result of the hotly disputed election.

On Wednesday, the Higher Presidential Elections Commission (HPEC) said that some 400 election complaints had been filed by the two candidates.

The commission said it needed more time to investigate the complaints, without giving any new date for the announcement of the results.

However, media reports suggest that the poll winner could be declared over the weekend.

Nader Omran, a spokesman for the Muslim Brotherhood, said the announcement should not have been delayed.

“It will bring more tension to the people – they should end the story tomorrow (Thursday),” he said.

Protests continued in Tahrir Square late into the night, with the Brotherhood saying they will mount a sit-in until the results are announced, and until the army gives up the sweeping powers it granted itself in a constitutional amendment last week.

Correspondents say Egypt appears to be in political and constitutional limbo.

In preliminary comments on the second round of the presidential election, a group of international election monitors headed by former US President Jimmy Carter voiced concerns about the “political and constitutional context” of the vote.

“I am deeply troubled by the undemocratic turn that Egypt’s transition has taken,” Jimmy Carter said.

On Saturday the SCAF had dissolved Egypt’s elected parliament – dominated by the Brotherhood – after a court ruling that last year’s legislative polls were unconstitutional.

Late on Sunday, hours after the polls closed in the presidential vote, the SCAF issued a constitutional declaration giving itself wide-ranging powers and limiting those of the incoming president.

The declaration effectively gave the SCAF legislative powers, control over the budget and over who writes the permanent constitution.

The SCAF’s moves were widely condemned by activists as amounting to a military coup.

 

Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is critically ill and may be close to death, reports from Cairo suggest.

Hosni Mubarak is said to have had a stroke and was moved from prison to an army hospital, where he is on life support. Initial reports said he was “clinically dead”.

It comes amid protests over disputed presidential election results and new powers for the ruling military.

Hosni Mubarak, 84, was ousted in last year’s uprising, and jailed for life for his role in the death of protesters.

There have been frequent reports since then that his health has deteriorated, many of which have proved wrong.

Through the night, supporters and opponents gathered outside the Maadi military hospital, where the former president is being treated.

Reports that he was clinically dead have been categorically denied by the ruling military council, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF).

Meanwhile, tens of thousands of people protested in Cairo’s Tahrir Square against a move by the SCAF to assume new powers.

The rally was called by the Muslim Brotherhood, which is also claiming victory for its candidate Mohammed Mursi in last weekend’s presidential elections.

His rival Ahmed Shafiq, a former prime minister under Mubarak, has also said he has won.

Results are expected to be announced on Thursday.

Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is critically ill and may be close to death

Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is critically ill and may be close to death

The Muslim Brotherhood has also vowed to retry Hosni Mubarak once in power, and insists that he should face the death penalty.

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

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

On Tuesday, Hosni Mubarak – who ruled Egypt for 30 years – was transferred by helicopter to intensive care at the Maadi armed forces hospital after suffering a stroke, state media said.

Correspondents say the hospital is better equipped to deal with such conditions than the prison hospital where he was being treated.

The former leader is now said to be unconscious and on life support.

Doctors are said to have used a defibrillator on him several times. The device delivers an electric shock to the heart to try to re-establish a normal heartbeat.

There are lots of police officers currently deployed outside the hospital.

There are also small groups of people – both Mubarak’s supporters and protesters against him – who have gathered outside the building, our correspondent says.

One woman, a supporter, was almost shaking with emotion and saying “I love him”.

Another supporter, a man, stood holding a poster of Hosni Mubarak.

“He is my father. I love him more than my father. The Muslim Brotherhood are criminals. They have destroyed our country. Mubarak kept us in peace for 30 years,” he said.

A group of anti-Mubarak young men responded by shouting: “We are poor, and he did nothing for us. His family ate meat and we were starving.”

“I’m ready to hammer his grave with my shoe,” another protester added.

Egyptians will be very skeptical about any reports about the former president’s health.

Before Hosni Mubarak’s trial began, his lawyer said he was in a coma, only for the former president to appear – alive and conscious, if not particularly well – in court.

Now there will be fears that the state of Mubarak’s health could be used as a distraction, as Egypt waits for the result of the hotly disputed presidential election.

However, the latest reports are better sourced than any before.

 

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.

 

Egypt’s ruling military council has vowed to hand over power to an elected president by the end of June.

The promise comes as votes are counted after Sunday’s presidential run-off election, with both candidates claiming they are ahead in early results.

However, the council had earlier issued a declaration granting itself sweeping powers over legislation and the introduction of a new constitution.

Opposition groups condemned the declaration as a “coup”.

Lt Muhammad al-Assar from the Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF) told a news conference that a ceremony would be held in late June to hand over power to the new president, state media report.

However, the constitutional declaration issued by the SCAF late on Sunday effectively gives it legislative powers, control over the budget and over who writes the permanent constitution following mass street protests that toppled Hosni Mubarak in February 2011.

It also strips the president of any authority over the army.

The SCAF have even guaranteed themselves jobs for life.

There have been no big protests so far – the military must be hoping that Egyptians are simply too tired of politics to protest, and are willing to go for stability whatever the cost, our correspondent says.

But the army’s declaration was widely condemned in opposition circles.

Prominent political figure Mohamed El Baradei has described the document as a “grave setback for democracy and revolution”.

Former presidential candidate Hamdeen Sabahi, who came third in the first round of voting and was the favored candidate of many in the protest movement, said the declaration was a “seizure of the future of Egypt”.

“We will not accept domination by any party,” Hamdeen Sabahi said.

Parliament speaker Saad al-Katatni, of the Muslim Brotherhood, said the declaration was “null and void”.

The Brotherhood had earlier urged Egyptians to “protect their revolution” after the SCAF dissolved parliament – dominated by the Brotherhood – on Saturday.

Two days earlier, the Supreme Constitutional Court ruled that last year’s legislative polls were unconstitutional because party members were allowed to contest seats in the lower house reserved for independents.

On Monday morning, soldiers prevented MPs from entering parliament.

The Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohammed Mursi ran in Sunday’s poll against Ahmed Shafiq, who served as prime minister under former President Hosni Mubarak.

The Muslim Brotherhood's Mohammed Mursi ran in Sunday's poll against Ahmed Shafiq, who served as prime minister under former President Hosni Mubarak

The Muslim Brotherhood's Mohammed Mursi ran in Sunday's poll against Ahmed Shafiq, who served as prime minister under former President Hosni Mubarak

The Brotherhood said Mohammed Mursi was holding a 52%-48% lead over Ahmed Shafiq with almost all the vote counted after Sunday’s second-round run-off election.

Speaking at his party headquarters, Mohammed Mursi pledged to be a president for all Egyptians, adding that he would not “seek revenge or settle scores”.

Hundreds of Mohammed Mursi’s supporters gathered in Cairo’s Tahrir Square to celebrate his declaration of victory.

But Ahmed Shafiq’s campaign said it rejected “completely” Mohammed Mursi’s victory claim, and that figures it had obtained showed Shafiq in the lead.

Official results from the Higher Presidential Election Commission (HPEC) will be announced on Thursday, state TV reported.

Correspondents say that there was less enthusiasm in the run-off election than there was for previous rounds of voting, and some called for a boycott or spoiled ballots.

Ahmed Shafiq came second to Mohammed Mursi in last month’s first round, in which turnout among the 52 million eligible voters was only 46%.

Ahmed Shafiq

• Aged 70

• Veteran fighter pilot and former air force commander

• Appointed Egypt’s first aviation minister, earning reputation for competence and efficiency

• Promoted to PM during February 2011 protests

• Associated with former regime, though denies being backed by ruling military council

• Campaigned on a promise to restore security

Mohammed Mursi

• Aged 60

• US-educated engineering professor

• Head of Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP)

• Served as independent MP 2000-05

• Quietly spoken, viewed by some as lacking charisma

• Has promised “stability, security, justice and prosperity” under an Islamic banner

 

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.

 

Egyptians are voting for the second day in the country’s first free presidential elections – 15 months after Hosni Mubarak was ousted.

Queues are being reported at some polling stations.

The election pits Islamists against secularists, and revolutionaries against Mubarak-era ministers. In all, 13 candidates are running.

The military council which assumed presidential power in February 2011 has promised a fair vote and civilian rule.

On Wednesday, there were large queues in many places, and voting passed off calmly for the most part.

However, protesters in Cairo threw shoes and stones at a convoy of candidate Ahmed Shafiq, who was Hosni Mubarak’s last prime minister.

There were also reports that a group of female voters has been denied access to a polling station in the capital because they were wearing a full face veil.

The US hailed the election, with State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland describing it as a “very important milestone” in Egypt’s transition to democracy.

Fifty million people are eligible to vote, and preliminary results are expected over the weekend.

Egyptians are voting for the second day in the country's first free presidential elections

Egyptians are voting for the second day in the country's first free presidential elections

The frontrunners are:

Ahmed Shafiq, a former commander of the air force and briefly prime minister during February 2011 protests

Amr Moussa, who has served as foreign minister and head of the Arab League

Mohammed Mursi, who heads Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party

Abdul Moneim Aboul Fotouh, an independent Islamist candidate

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.

Voting across the country resumed at 08:00 local time. The authorities have declared Thursday a holiday, partly to allow public sector employees time to cast their ballots.

Some Egyptians may have been waiting for a second day of voting to avoid crowds.

On Wednesday, voting was extended by an hour to 21:00 to cater for queues at a number of polling stations.

NGOs and rights groups monitoring the election reported some complaints.

Egypt’s National Council for Human Rights (NCHR) said they received 50 complaints on electoral violations ranging from delay in opening voting booths, to campaigning for candidates outside polling stations during voting.

There was a heavy police and military presence outside the 13,000 polling sub-stations, and the atmosphere was mostly calm, with people waiting patiently for their turn to vote.

Mohammed Mursi was originally the Muslim Brotherhood’s reserve candidate, but he was thrust into the limelight after its first choice, Khairat al-Shater, was disqualified by the Higher Presidential Electoral Commission (HPEC) over an unresolved conviction.

He told reporters: “Today the world is witnessing the birth of a new Egypt. I am proud and cherish my membership of this people. I assure them that tomorrow will be better than today and better than yesterday.”

A run-off vote is scheduled for 16 and 17 June if there is no candidate manages to get more that 50% of the votes.

The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), worried about potential post-election unrest, has sought to reassure Egyptians that it will be the voters themselves who decide who will be the next president.

The 15 months since Hosni Mubarak was forced from power have been turbulent, with continued violent protests and a deteriorating economy.

Foreign direct investment has reversed from $6.4 billion flowing into the country in 2010 to $500 million leaving it last year.

Tourism, a major revenue generator for Egypt, has also dropped by a third.

The new president will have to reform the police to deal with the rash of crime that followed the uprising.

As many as a third of voters were reported to be undecided about which candidate to choose.

The Arab Spring began last year in Tunisia, inspiring pro-democracy activists across the Arab world.

Hosni Mubarak, who was in power for three decades, resigned on 11 February 2011 after 18 days of protests in Cairo and other cities.

He is on trial for his alleged role in the deaths of protesters. A verdict is expected in June.

 

Egyptians are starting to vote in their first free presidential election, 15 months after ousting Hosni Mubarak in the Arab Spring uprising.

Fifty million people are eligible to vote, and queues are forming at some polling stations.

The military council which assumed presidential power in February 2011 has promised a fair vote and civilian rule.

The election pits Islamists against secularists, and revolutionaries against Mubarak-era ministers.

The frontrunners are:

Ahmed Shafiq, a former commander of the air force and briefly prime minister during February 2011 protests

Amr Moussa, who has served as foreign minister and head of the Arab League

Mohammed Mursi, who heads Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party

Abdul Moneim Aboul Fotouh, an independent Islamist candidate.

Egyptians are starting to vote in their first free presidential election, 15 months after ousting Hosni Mubarak in the Arab Spring uprising

Egyptians are starting to vote in their first free presidential election, 15 months after ousting Hosni Mubarak in the Arab Spring uprising

Until a new constitution is approved it is unclear what powers the president will have, prompting fears of friction with the military.

Voting began promptly at 08:00 local time, with queues observed at many Cairo polling stations growing longer by the minute.

“It’s a very big day,” said one woman. “This is a real great moment for the Egyptians to change.”

Another, when asked how long she had been waiting to vote, replied, with a laugh: “30 years.”

One man said it was most important for the new president to have his own programme.

“Actually he has to be in the revolution, or he has to be a strong part in the revolution. This is something which is not negotiable,” he said.

Mohammed Mursi was originally the Muslim Brotherhood’s reserve candidate, but he was thrust into the limelight after its first choice, Khairat al-Shater, was disqualified by the Higher Presidential Electoral Commission (HPEC) over an unresolved conviction.

The Brotherhood have nevertheless likened Mohammed Mursi, a US-educated engineer and MP, to an underrated football substitute.

“In any match there is the reserve who plays in the last 10 minutes, scores the goal and wins the match. Mursi is our reserve player,” said cleric Mohamed Abdel Maqsoud while addressing a crowd of Brotherhood supporters on Sunday.

A run-off vote is scheduled for 16 and 17 June if there is no outright winner.

There is also a potential clash waiting to happen with the military, which seems determined to retain its position as the power behind the president’s chair.

And the electorate does not know what powers the new president will have to do his job, as they are still waiting for them to be spelled out in a new constitution.

The election is being hailed as a landmark for Egyptians, who have the opportunity to choose their leader for the first time in the country’s 5,000-year recorded history.

The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), worried about potential post-election unrest, has sought to reassure Egyptians that it will be the voters themselves who decide who will be the next president.

“It is important that we all accept the election results, which will reflect the free choice of the Egyptian people, bearing in mind that Egypt’s democratic process is taking its first step and we all must contribute to its success,” it said in a statement on Monday.

The 15 months since Hosni Mubarak was forced from power has been turbulent, with continued violent protests and a deteriorating economy.

Foreign direct investment has reversed from $6.4 billion flowing into the country in 2010 to $500 million leaving it last year.

Tourism, a major revenue generator for the country, has also dropped by a third.

The new president will also have to reform the police to deal with the rash of crime that followed the uprising.

As many as a third of voters are reported to be undecided about which candidate to choose.

The Arab Spring began in Tunisia last year when weeks of protests forced President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali from power, inspiring pro-democracy activists across the Arab world.

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, in power for three decades, resigned on 11 February 2011 after 18 days of protests in Cairo and other cities.

Hosni Mubarak is on trial for his alleged role in the deaths of protesters, and a verdict in the case is due on 2 June.

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Ten candidates from the Egyptian presidential poll, including former spy chief Omar Suleiman and the Muslim Brotherhood’s Khairat al-Shater, have been barred by election officials.

Ultra orthodox Salafi Sheikh Hazem Salah Abu Ismail has also been banned.

No reason was given by officials, who said the banned candidates had 48 hours to appeal. Thirteen candidates remain.

Elections are due to be held in May, more than a year after Hosni Mubarak was overthrown by popular protests.

The decision by Omar Suleiman to stand for the presidency sparked major protests in Cairo on Friday

The decision by Omar Suleiman to stand for the presidency sparked major protests in Cairo on Friday

Egypt is still governed by a military council, although parliamentary elections have taken place in the meantime. The Brotherhood-backed Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) became the largest party in parliament.

The decision by Omar Suleiman to stand for the presidency sparked major protests in Cairo on Friday.

The news that he and nine other candidates were being excluded was announced by Farouk Sultan, the head of the Supreme Presidential Election Commission. Officials said the 10 did not meet the conditions for candidacy, but no further explanation was given.