Who’s in charge of Egypt?
Mohammed Morsi has won Egypt’s first free presidential elections. The result was announced on Sunday 24 June, a week after the polls closed. Having seen off former Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq, the Muslim Brotherhood candidate is set to be sworn into office on June 30.
Morsi pledged to be a president for all Egyptians and called for national solidarity in his victory speech: “I invite you, the great Egyptian people… to cement bonds amongst us, to strengthen our comprehensive national unity,” he said, reported the BBC.
Morsi’s victory comes after the country’s interim military rulers moved to extend their powers, taking control of the budget and the armed forces, and dissolving parliament. Despite the fact that Egypt has its first democratically elected president, most commentators are reluctant to celebrate too soon.
Read more about Egypt’s ‘military coup’ ahead of the presidential elections at The Periscope Post.
Morsi is not in charge
“Nobody really knows now who is in power. Mr Morsi, just about everyone agrees, is not,” wrote Richard Spencer in The Telegraph. “He is answerable to two men: Field Marshal Mohammed Hussein Tantawi, the chairman of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces and defence minister; and Mohammed Badie, the Murshid or Guide of the Brotherhood, to whom he also owes obedience.”
Morsi could be a powerful president
“This is a historic moment for Egypt. Another nail has been hammered into the coffin of the old regime,” said a Guardian editorial. Some have dismissed Morsi as a “spare tyre”, as he was not in fact the Muslim Brotherhood’s first-choice candidate, but he may well turn out to be a “powerful” president. “He is a dogged negotiator and, supporters say, a man of courage,” said the editorial – qualities Morsi will need to deal with the military council in the future.
Presidential result means eventual victory for revolution
In the 18 months since the revolution that toppled Hosni Mubarak from power, “the military has squandered almost all of the goodwill that remained with the Egyptian people,” wrote Mark LeVine at Al Jazeera. And the Muslim Brotherhood isn’t faring much better in popularity terms: “A wide swathe of the Egyptian public… believes it sold out a revolution in which it was never vested for a greater share of power.” This may well ultimately benefit experienced Tahrir Square activists who are currently excluded from the Egyptian political system: “If the incompetent performance of SCAF, the Brotherhood and the rest of Egypt’s power elite is any indication, there will be plenty of opportunities for Egypt’s revolutionary forces to lay the foundation for a powerful opposition movement that will have a fighting chance to win real power the next time Egyptians head to the polls,” LeVine said.
Egypt divided, economy faltering
The run-up to the announcement of the election result “seems to highlight splintering among countrymen once united by a common goal to oust the former regime, with thousands of people, opposed to Islamist rule, holding separate protests in support of Shafiq”, wrote Vivien Salama at The Daily Beast. In order to unite the country, Morsi needs to take on the military and, crucially, engage with Egypt’s faltering economy: “Without stimulation, there will be no jobs, no improved education, no institution building—some of the very issues that sparked this revolution in the first place,” Salama said.
Watch the reaction in Egypt to Mohammed Morsi’s victory.