Both the FJP and the Salifis believed the military was continuing policies of the Mubarak regime by targeting the Islamist candidates. Al-Shater was especially outspoken, saying, “If any party whether (the ruling military) or the election commission or security agencies imagine that using Mubarak’s old ways will lead to our defeat or stop us, it is a dream that will not be realized.” He added, “We will not allow the revolution to be stolen from us.”
Abu Ismail accused the commission of falsifying the evidence against him. “We are exposed to a conspiracy by parties that you cannot imagine. What is happening inside the committee is treachery to create divisions,” he said. He challenged the commission to present the evidence against him – evidence supplied by the US State Department who turned over the information after it was requested by the Egyptian government.
The volatility of the national mood would be tested severely if the military were to delay the presidential vote. The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), which holds executive power, have made a decision that the presidential elections will only take place after the new document is written. This reflects the widespread belief among the more secular and moderate elements in Egyptian society that no president should take power under the old constitution, which grants broad and dangerous powers to the chief executive. The practical effect of this decision is a delay in the vote, given the unlikely event that a panel to write the document can be empowered and the constitution completed before the first round of voting in late May.
The US is urging that the election should go forward anyway. State Department spokesman Mark Toner told a press briefing, “Our concern is that we want to see a fair and transparent process moving forward and a successful election and handover of power to a civilian government along the time frame that the (military council) has already laid out.”
But the military fears an Islamist president would strip them of power, expropriate the businesses that enrich current and former officers, and reduce their imprint on Egyptian society. They want a constitution that would leave them as they are now — the dominant force in the life of the country. Whether that’s possible, given the fierce opposition of the Egyptian street, is one reason drawing up the new constitution will take more than the few weeks remaining before the presidential vote.
The disqualifications have fueled these suspicions and that SCAF will influence the writing of the constitution to make sure they maintain their perks in the economic and social spheres. And while the Islamists reluctantly agree that a new constitution should be in place before the election is held, their revolutionary supporters will not sit still for a delay. Egypt’s youth have made it clear that a delay will be seen as a betrayal, which means there would be an effort to recreate the kinds of street protests that toppled Hosni Mubarak. Even the Islamists might feel compelled to join the protests if that were to occur.
A protest by supporters of all three ousted candidates is scheduled for Friday after prayers, which almost guarantees a huge turnout. The situation in the street will only add to the feelings of uncertainty and confusion that have now plunged the country into another crisis.
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