The reaction to Egyptian President Muhammad Morsi’s call to reinstate the dissolved parliament was largely negative on Monday and Tuesday morning, except among supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood and among small leftist youth groups. Given that the Carter Center and other bodies concerned with human rights had denounced the dissolution of parliament roundly, I am a little surprised at how the main leaders of the left and the liberal streams in Egyptian politics came out against Morsi’s move (many of them had at least tacitly supported Morsi against his opponent, Ahmad Shafiq– a former Air Force general associated with the old regime). But now, they are pushing back against Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood.
It is a bad sign that whereas the Egyptian stock market rose when Morsi was elected (on hopes of stability), it fell when Morsi called for the old parliament to meet.
The most serious development was that the Supreme Constitutional Court reaffirmed its judgment that the parliament was elected illegally and must therefore ‘disappear,’ i.e., be dissolved.
In fact, the head of the Courts’ Association gave Morsi 36 hours to reverse himself.
Worse for Morsi, the Supreme Administrative Court, the only civilian body that has the authority to over-rule the president, said that it would make its own ruling. The Brotherhood had complained in mid-June that the Administrative Court had not been the body to order the dissolution of parliament, arguing that the Supreme Constitutional Court can’t order specific actions on the basis of its rulings, it can only decide whether something is constitutional or not. But if the administrative court now weighs in and concurs in the dissolution of parliament, the Brotherhood can hardly complain (they called for the court to act).
Angry shoving broke out on Tuesday morning at the Supreme Court, causing that body to adjourn.
As might have been expected, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces reaffirmed its own dissolution of the parliament and said with a forced smile that it was sure all the political actors would obey the courts. Despite the icy communiques issued by each side, Morsi sat amicably next to military head Gen. Hussein Tantawi at a cadet graduation ceremony.
What I hadn’t expected is that Morsi’s liberal and leftist presidential rivals came out against this move. Abdel Moneim Abou’l-Futouh, the liberal Muslim candidate of the Center Party, called Morsi’s move unconstitutional. Leftist leader Hamdeen Sabahi, said it wa a waste of presidential authority and also castigated it as disrespectful of the courts and of the rule of law. Muhammad al-Baradei, former head of the International Energy Agency called the decision ‘drespectful of the courts.”
Nearly as many Egyptians voted for the secular candidate, Ahmad Shafiq, as voted for Morsi, the Shafiq supporters are likewise mostly outraged by Morsi’s action. Egypt is becoming polarized.
Tuesday will see a big ‘million man march’ by the Muslim Brotherhood in support of Morsi, along with further interventions from the courts and the military.
Will try to do an update later today as events unfold. But, nothing decisive is likely to get decided today. This conflict is sort of like Native American skirmishes, where most of the action involved war paint and taunting, rather than actual lethal engagement. At least that is so far the case.