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On Election Day, Winner is Confusion
June 16, 2012

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Egyptians voted for president under a cloud of uncertainty, as unrest grew in the country still reeling from a series of major decisions put forward by the high court and the ruling military generals.

The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces reasserted its authority by dissolving Parliament, seizing on a Supreme Constitutional Court ruling invalidating fully one-third of the elected MPs because they were political party representatives rather than independent candidates. Armed with expanded authority, army troops and intelligence officials patrolled the streets of Cairo and other major cities.

The Muslim Brotherhood, which stands to lose the most by the generals' actions, has issued a statement challenging the dissolution, saying that such an extreme action can result only from a referendum, as happened in 1987 and 1990. Saad al-Katatny, who had been serving as Parliamentary Speaker, insisted that the Constitutional and Legislative Affairs Committee was investigating, but it wasn't clear how this was happening since armed troops surrounded the Parliament building and had orders to admit no one.

Yet to be determined as well are the powers the new president has, since the country's new constitution has yet to be written. The 100 members of the panel charged with writing the new document have yet to be released. SCAF have taken control of that process as well, after fractures in Parliament resulted in two straight deadlocks.

The ruling generals have for many months vowed to hand over power to a newly elected president, but the conditions have consistently been that an elected Parliament and a written constitution also be in place.

Turnout on the first day of the presidential runoff was low. Many people prefer neither candidate. Faced by the choice between the Muslim Brotherhood's Mohammed Morsi and Hosni Mubarak's last prime minister, Ahmed Shafiq, many Egyptians say they will be sitting this one out.

Allegations of voter irregularities abounded, from already-marked ballots to pens filled with disappearing ink. All of it, combined with the relative apathy or feelings of helplessness voiced by many, especially in the streets of Cairo, only added to the confusion.



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