In Egypt, The run-off elections for the first democratically elected President in the country took place over the past weekend, June 16-17. The contest was between Mohammad Mursi, supported by the Muslim Brotherhood, and Ahmed Shafik, former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s last prime minister. Mohammad Mursi and his camp have declared him the unofficial winner, based on initial voting results. However, the official count is only due later this week.
Meanwhile, Egypt’s Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, known as the SCAF, has issued a constitutional declaration which appears to give to the military sweeping powers, including legislative authority, after a court ruled that a third of the seats were elected unconstitutionally resulting in the SCAF’s closure of the Parliament building; as well as control of economic and foreign policy decisions; and the process of drafting a constitution. The SCAF has insisted however, that it will hand over power to the elected president by June 30.
U.S. State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said the United States is concerned about events in Egypt. “Millions of Egyptians voted this past weekend in an election to choose a new president democratically, reflecting their aspirations for both a president and a government chosen by the Egyptian people that will work for the Egyptian people,” she said. “This is a critical moment in Egypt, and the world is watching intently. We a particularly concerned,” she added, “by decisions that appear to prolong the military’s hold on power:”
“We call on the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces to restore popular and international confidence in the democratic transition process by following through on their stated commitments to an inclusive, constitutional drafting process, the timely seating of a democratically elected parliament and the swift permanent transfer of power to a civilian government.”
Ms. Nuland quoted Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, saying, “There [can] be no going back on the democratic transition. . .The United States stands with the Egyptian people in their aspiration to choose their own leaders.”