Mursi Sworn in as Egyptian President
Via the BBC: Brotherhood’s Mursi sworn in as Egyptian president.
Of course, there is a rather fundamental question on the table now: what does being president of Egypt even mean at this point? Is he a figurehead intended to put a veneer of legitimacy on the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces’ power or will he actually be in a position to shepherd in a new constitutional order? At the moment, it looks like the former and not the latter. Indeed, it would seem that at the moment the president lacks any formal powers or responsibilities. As the story notes:
The regime of former President Hosni Mubarak is still largely intact and many in it will not work with the new president, [regional analyst Magdi Abdelhadi] adds.
Mursi, at least publically, seem to think otherwise:
Parliament was dissolved by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (Scaf), which assumed legislative powers under a controversial “interim constitutional declaration”.
The Scaf is due to hand over power to Mr Mursi later on Saturday.
“The army now returns to his original role, protecting the nation and its borders,” Mr Mursi said.
Parliament, the new president insisted, had been elected in a free and fair ballot and had been entrusted with drafting a new, democratic constitution.
We will see. The fact of the matter is that the military was the undergirding power of the Mubarak regime and that has not changed with Mubarak’s ouster. For example:
Maj Gen Mohamed al-Assar, a Scaf member, told Egyptian media earlier that the head of Scaf, Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, would remain as defence minister under Mr Mursi.
So, in other words, no civilian control of the military.
In terms of at least a slice of popular sentiment regarding Tantawi:
When the Scaf leader arrived at Cairo University for Mr Mursi’s speech, hostile students standing outside chanted “The people want to execute the field marshal”, according to Egyptian news website Al-Misri al-Yawm.
While alarmists and Islamophobes will declare that the Muslim Brotherhood has taken over Egypt (for example here, here, and here), it is more than a little difficult to objectively look at the situation and state that power is anywhere but in the hands of the SCAF. Further, the election of a Mursi over a member of the Mubarak regime only demonstrates a rejection of the past by the electorate and not much of anything else. Beyond that it rather taints any attempt at actual analysis to run and hide behind the couch just because the word “Muslim” is uttered in the context of elections. But, of course, the Becks and Limbaughs of the world (two of those linked above) aren’t interested in analysis, since fear mongering gets better ratings.
If one actually values the notion of a democratic transition, this is not a positive situation. The military does not appear to have any interest in giving up power. This means that either Egypt is going to engage in a dance of faux reform while the military simply continues to consolidate its position or popular frustration with the lack of real reform will ignite further public upheaval.
There are no easy and simple routes here for Egypt, but we do need an honest assessment of the power situation on the ground as well as putting the Islamophobia away.