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Islamist-Army Deal on Egypt Powers

Published: 26/06/2012 08:18:12 PM GMT
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CAIRO - As their candidate was voted to the helm of power of the Arab world's most populous state, the Muslim Brotherhood has reached agreements with the ruling military on the president's powers and a dissolved Islamist-led (more)

CAIRO - As their candidate was voted to the helm of power of the Arab world's most populous state, the Muslim Brotherhood has reached agreements with the ruling military on the president's powers and a dissolved Islamist-led parliament.

"We are working on reaching a compromise on various items so all parties are able to work together in the future," Esssam Haddad, a senior Muslim Brotherhood member and aide to President Mohamed Morsi, told Reuters on Tuesday, June 26.

Morsi held talks Monday with the ruling military council, which took over from ousted president Hosni Mubarak.

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Haddad said the talks had covered possible amendments to a constitutional decree issued by the military council that limited the president's powers.

"We do not accept having a president without powers,” Haddad said.

“The solution being worked out now is scaling back those restrictions so that President Morsi can deliver to the people what he promised.”

The Brotherhood, banned under Mubarak, sent its supporters onto the streets last week to protest the decree limiting the president's powers and a court ruling dissolving the Islamist-led parliament.

Islamists and others said the two moves amounted to a military coup.

The Brotherhood and the army held discreet talks ahead of the announcement of the presidential vote results, officials on both sides said.

Morsi was declared winner of Egypt's first democratic election on Sunday after defeating former premier Ahmed Shafiq.

He has pledged to form an inclusive government to be representative of all Egyptians.

Sameh Essawi, an aide to Morsi, said the new president will name six vice-presidents - a woman, a Christian and others drawn from non-Brotherhood political groups -to act as an advisory panel.

Morsi has resigned as head of the Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party to be a "president for all Egyptians" but critics question his independence from the movement's opaque leadership.

The new president will be sworn in on Saturday, probably before the Constitutional Court. The Brotherhood will also stage a symbolic swearing-in ceremony in Tahrir Square.

Presidents were previously sworn in by parliament, which is now shuttered and under military guard.


Brotherhood officials say that the talks also focus on loosening the military grip on an assembly that would write Egypt's new constitution.

"The negotiations involve loosening the grip of the generals on the constitutional assembly so that it can draft the new constitution without interference," Haddad said.

He said the military would keep control of its budget and internal affairs but the generals would have to keep their hands off the constitution-drafting assembly.

Under the new decree, the army gave itself the right to veto articles of the constitution that the assembly will draft, angering the Brotherhood, which itself wants a big say.

A senior Brotherhood aide said the generals had agreed to lift their veto power over articles drafted by the 100-member assembly, provided that about 10 of its Islamist members were replaced with technocrats favored by the military.

The aide added that Morsi's team and the generals had also agreed on how ministries should be divided in the cabinet.

"The ministries of finance and foreign affairs would go to the Brotherhood provided they steer clear of the defence, interior and justice ministries," the aide said on condition of anonymity.

Morsi met police commanders on Tuesday at the police academy where Mubarak's trial was held. The police come under the Interior Ministry, run by ex-police chiefs in Mubarak's day.

The Brotherhood has pledged to reform a ministry seen as a tool of political coercion and responsible for many past abuses.

Brotherhood officials also said that an agreement was reached on the dissolution of Islamist-led lower house of parliament.

They said the army had agreed in talks that the election would be re-run only for the individual seats, and that a legal route would be found to get around the court's ruling that the whole house must be dissolved.

The Brotherhood, Egypt's oldest and most organized Islamist group, often met army generals after Mubarak's fall on February 11, 2011, in an apparent effort to manage the transition equably.

But ties between the two entities became strained. The Islamists were frustrated at parliament's lack of sway over government policy, while the army grew uneasy about the Brotherhood's drive for power.

The Brotherhood and other opponents of military rule were also angered by a Justice Ministry order this month giving the army powers to arrest civilians, effectively reinstating the much-hated state of emergency that had lapsed on May 31.

Mubarak had used emergency law throughout his 30 years in power to repress Islamists and other dissenters.One Brotherhood official said the army had agreed to lift the new measure once the police force, which collapsed during last year's uprising, returned to the streets.

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