Several parties, unions and organizations called for big demonstrations on Tusday in Tahrir Square in Cairo. They will be protesting the issuance on Monday by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces of a constitutional ‘addendum’ that appeared to grant the military council wide powers and to whittle down those of the elected president.
Former presidential candidates Abdel Moneim Abou’l-Futouh and Hamdeen Sabahi joined in a chorus of political leaders that condemned the constitutional addendum as unconstitutional.
The Muslim Brotherhood and its party wing, the Freedom and Justice Party, will join in this demonstration. Its members are furious not only about the addendum but also about the dissolution of the elected parliament, which they had dominated. As Richard Spencer points out, the Brotherhood is playing a double game, joining demonstrations but also making a separate peace with the military so as to be able to assume at least some of the powers of the presidency. Some of the MPs are insisting that the parliament is valid and is still in session. Some tried to go to the parliament building on Monday to hold a session, and were dispersed. They are vowing to try again on Tuesday, or to meet in Tahrir Square in downtown Cairo if they cannot meet inside the parliament building (which the military has under lock and key).
SCAF said in the addendum that it would assume the powers of the legislature until a new parliament is elected, would have authority over the budget, would decide on military appointments and promotions, and would shape the constituent assembly that will draft the new constitution. It envisages that a new constitution will be drafted, and new elections held for parliament, by the end of 2012. The protesters say that there is no basis in Egyptian law for the military council to appoint a constituent assembly to draft the constitution.
In addition, on Monday SCAF created a National Security Council, to be chaired by the president, with both civilian and military members, but with the officers in the majority. Such institutions have been deployed in places like Turkey and Pakistan in the past to constrain the control of a civlian president over military affairs.
At the same time, Maj. Gen. Mohamed el-Assar, a member of SCAF, insisted that the military would in fact turn power over to the president before July 1, and denied that the president’s prerogatives would be curtailed. He insisted that no one can turn back the clock in Egypt to the time of the Mubarak dictatorship. The military said that the president would appoint a new government (prime minister and cabinet ministers). SCAF denies that it has made a coup, and urged people to trust its good intentions toward the revolution.
The assurances sounded hollow in the face of SCAF’s high-handed dissolution of parliament afer a ruling by the supreme administrative court, and its decree that civilians may be arrested by military and intelligence personnel.