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Egyptian Military Sharply Reduces President's Powers
June 18, 2012

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No matter who is Egypt's next president, he won't have anywhere near the powers that Hosni Mubarak had.

Egypt's ruling generals, who have ruled the country since the abdication of Mubarak in February 2011, issued another major pronouncement, while the polls for the weekend's presidential runoff election were still open, stripping the presidency of nearly all of its significant powers.

The election pitted Mubarak's last prime minister, Ahmed Shafiq, against the Muslim Brotherhood's Mohammed Morsi. Turnout was low, mainly because many voters found the choices too polarizing.

Morsi has declared victory, saying that his organization's tallies showed him with a majority of the votes. Shafiq has issued a similar statement. A final announcement is expected from the government soon.

But increasingly, the government is the military. The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces continues to insist that it will transfer power to the president once a new constitution is written. SCAF is now in charge of writing that constitution, which will have to be approved by a national referendum, and of the newly announced national defense council, which will consist of 11 senior military commanders and the new president.

The generals had earlier in the week dissolved Parliament, in which the Brotherhood had won the most seats in January's elections, following a high court announcement that one-third of MPs were elected illegally.

Cautious protesters gathered in Cairo's Tahrir Square, very much aware of another military announcement that gave police increased powers to arrest people at public demonstrations.

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