Sunday, November 13, 2011

Egypt military giving signs of not wanting to relinquish power

Egypt's ruling military council is silencing critics while polishing its image amid increasing signs that it is plotting to stay in power behind the scenes even after a new parliament is in place early next year.

Activists and politicians are worried that the military, the country's most revered institution before the revolution that overthrew President Hosni Mubarak in February, refuses to have its authority and financial interests answerable to an emerging democracy.

Concerns were heightened this week when the military-backed interim government announced parameters for writing Egypt's new constitution. The proposals allow the generals to appoint 80% of the constitutional committee. They also state that the defense budget would be kept secret and the military would be the "guardian" of the constitution, raising the possibility of intervention in legislative and presidential affairs.

"The implications of this are really frightening," said Amr Darrag, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood's political wing. "A full control by the military of the political arena would be catastrophic."

The military's power highlights how removed Egyptians are from the freedoms and civil liberties they sought in overthrowing Mubarak's 30-year-old police state. The country's martial law and political disarray are stark contrasts to recent elections in Tunisia, which is much closer to achieving the democratic ideals of the "Arab Spring." more