The Egyptian military high command council issued Communique no. 5 Sunday, answering some of the lingering questions being posed by protesters on Sunday.
McClatchy has the translation.
The communique makes it clear that Minister of Defense Mohammad Hussein Tantawi is the provisional head of state. Despite his closeness to the Mubarak regime before the revolution, Tantawi is probably more trusted and respected than the new vice president, Omar Suleiman, former head of military intelligence. Tantawi served in the 1956, 1967 and 1973 wars with Israel and so has nationalist credentials. The unpopular Suleiman has thus receded into the shadows, though his presence reassures Washington and Tel Aviv.
The generals have suspended the 1971 constitution, which they say they will amend before holding free presidential and parliamentary elections sometime in the next six months. They also dissolved parliament. There will be a popular referendum on the amendments. In short, the officer corps is acting as the instrument of Egyptian popular sovereignty, representing the people and consulting them without having been chosen by them, until that people’s choice can be made.
These moves remove some of the advantages, to which I referred at Columbia University last Thursday, enjoyed by the ruling National Democratic Party. Moreover, membership in that party isn’t any longer an attractive item on one’s resume, and some 5,000 leading members have now resigned from it.
The communique was welcomed by some of the protesters, though they are still demanding an abrogation of the State of Emergency and release of political prisoners. But in a situation where the constitution is suspended and there is a military government, there is ipso facto a state of emergency.
One tweet said that labor union meetings and strikes were being forbidden, which if true is a troubling development (the Arabic Aljazeera report linked above just said that there were rumors this prohibition would be announced, not that it had been). Some protesters are worried about a reversion to the status quo, and hope to keep pressure on the military through weekly demonstrations on Fridays.
For the moment, Egypt is a strange kind of military dictatorship, with various safety valves for popular input and a set of promises for the future. But then, it has been that for some time– it is just that the promises may now be more credible and a transition to something else may be possible.