Manu Brabo, Associated Press
CAIRO — As vote counting began in Egypt's election for the successor to Hosni Mubarak, the ruling military issued an interim constitution Sunday that handed themselves the lion's share of power over the new president, enshrining their hold on the state and sharpening the possibility of confrontation with the Muslim Brotherhood.
With parliament dissolved and martial law effectively in force, the generals made themselves the country's lawmakers, gave themselves control over the budget and will determine who writes the permanent constitution that will define the country's future.
That could set Egypt on the path of continued turmoil, particularly if conservative Islamist Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood emerges the victor in the presidential run-off against Ahmad Shafiq, Mubarak's former prime minister.
Already, the Muslim Brotherhood was warning that they would launch protests if Shafiq is declared the winner. After polls closed Sunday night after two days of voting, the Brotherhood claimed an early lead in the hand counting, though it narrowed as more results rolled in. After midnight, Morsi led at 55 percent to Shafiq's 45 percent of the votes from just under half of the country's more than 13,000 polling stations, according to the Brotherhood.
The figures were based on results announced by election officials at individual counting centers, where each campaign has representatives who compile the numbers and make them public before the formal declaration. The early, partial counts proved generally accurate in the first round of the election last month, which narrowed the field down from 13 candidates to two.
"If it happens that they announce he (Shafiq) is the winner, then there is forgery," said Brotherhood spokesman Murad Mohammed Ali. "We will return to the streets" — though he added, "we don't believe in violence."
Shafiq, a former air force commander, is seen as the generals' favorite in the contest and would likely work closely with them. So closely that his opponents fear the result will be a continuation of the military-backed, authoritarian police state that Mubarak ran for nearly 29 years.
A victory by Morsi could translate into a rockier tussle over spheres of power between the Muslim Brotherhood and the military.
Trying to rally the public in the last hours of voting, the Brotherhood presented a Morsi presidency as the last hope to prevent total control by the military council of Mubarak-era generals.
"We got rid of one devil and got 19," said Mohammed Kanouna, referring to Mubarak and the members of the military council as he voted for Morsi after night fell in Cairo's Dar el-Salam slum. "We have to let them know there is a will of the people above their will."
Sunday night, the Brotherhood seemed to lay the groundwork for a confrontation with the military over its power grab. It rejected last week's order by the Supreme Constitutional Court dissolving parliament, where they were the largest party, as a "coup against the entire democratic process." It also rejected the military's right to declare an interim constitution and vowed that an assembly created by parliament last week before its dissolution will write the new charter, not one picked by the generals.
However, the Brotherhood has reached accommodations with the generals at times over the past 16 months since Mubarak's fall, as it struck deals with Mubarak's regime itself.
It also has no power to force recognition of the parliament-created constituent assembly, which already seems discounted after parliament's dissolution and is likely to be formally disbanded by a pending court ruling. Lawmakers are literally locked out of parliament, which is ringed by troops.
- Calliop, Jag and Tintin: Here's a look at 20...
- Walmart, Kmart 'Layaway Angels' spreading...
- Little difference between PG-13 and R-rated...
- What you think of welfare program depends on...
- Many Mormon missionaries who return home...
- WestJet airline video goes viral as Santa...
- Better than a raise: The smallest thing you...
- Putin defends Russian conservative values
- Can Mandela's legacy revive the GOP? 32
- India government likely to review... 25
- What you think of welfare program... 25
- Health care debate about presidential... 24
- Health care signups increase to... 23
- Looking beyond the premium is a... 17
- Putin defends Russian conservative values 15
- Little difference between PG-13 and... 13