(10 am. – promoted by ek hornbeck)
Why is the New York Times surprised? I’m not.
by David Kirkpatrick
CAIRO – Egyptian election officials said Wednesday that they were postponing the announcement of a winner in last week’s presidential runoff, saying they needed more time to evaluate charges of electoral abuse that could affect who becomes the country’s next leader.
The commission had been expected to confirm a winner on Thursday and, based on a public vote count confirmed in official news media, to have named Mohamed Morsi, of the Muslim Brotherhood.
The surprise delay intensified a power struggle between the Muslim Brotherhood and Egypt’s military rulers. It came just days after the generals who took over upon the ouster of Hosni Mubarak reimposed martial law, shut down the Brotherhood-led Parliament, issued an interim charter slashing the new president’s power and took significant control over the writing of a new constitution.
Amid allegations of fraud from both sides, both candidates have declared themselves winners, although, the unofficial count show that Morsi is the clear victor by a million vote margin. The presidential commission, which has the final say, is investigating the allegations while rumors abound that they will invalidate enough of Morsi’s votes to make Safiq the winner. On of the allegations being investigated is that the Muslim Brotherhood gained access to a government printing office and pre-marked at least one million ballots for Morsi.
Jihad el-Haddad, an aide to Khairat el-Shater – the movement’s first choice for president and a man seen as its de facto leader – said the Brotherhood is “done negotiating”. [..]
The Brotherhood is now ready to push the military to the brink, he said.
Its leaders are well aware that the bungled transition has cost the country several billion dollars in lost investment and aid, much of it tied to having a democratically elected government, and even more in foreign reserves spent to keep the Egyptian pound afloat.
Further unrest would likely cause a currency devaluation, pushing up the prices of food and household goods and raising the spectre of a “hunger revolution,” Haddad said.
Meanwhile, alternative premises have been found where the parliament can meet on Tuesday for its regular session, he claimed, in defiance of the military council, which has ordered the armed guards surrounding the parliament building to deny entry to MPs. [..]
Both sides know the economic and human cost of a return to the mass protests and street clashes that have marked the past 16 months, and their ongoing negotiations indicate both are probably more malleable than they make themselves appear.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said the US expects the military to “support the democratic transition, to recede by turning over authority”.
“The military has to assume an appropriate role, which is not to try to interfere with, dominate or subvert the constitutional authority,” she said.
Privately, US officials expressed concern that a Shafik victory could have dangerous fallout, with protests and ensuing instability that could lead the military to take even stronger measures.
The big problem is that the allies of the military, Mubarak-era officials and secular opponents of Islamists also hold sway in the judiciary, the prosecutor’s office and the election commission.
Even if the military turns over control to a civilian government by the end of June, it will still retain unprecedented powers and that is a huge problem.