Confrontrations Brewing between Brotherhood and Military

Saad al-Katatny, speaker of parliament

Early results of the presidential elections show Morsy the likely victor, with a small 51% to 48% margin. Official results will not be issued until Thursday, though Morsy has declared victory. Shafik is mostly silent, though he protests Morsy’s declaration.

As news of Morsy’s victory was emerging, the military council issued a supplementary constitutional declaration. It gives them the rights of the legislature following the dissolution of parliament, as well as near veto power over the coming constitution. It isolates the military from the command of the president, and establishes martial law powers for the military police.

The presidential elections settle very little.

Tomorrow is a very key day in the continuing struggle. First of all, the Muslim Brotherhood is challenging the right of the military leadership to execute the decision of the court to dissolve parliament. It claims, following past precedent but iffy legal standing, that the people must ratify this decision through a referendum.

If it was just legal challenges all would be back page news. Tomorrow, however, represents a normal working day for parliament. The Brotherhood – it is unclear though unlikely other parties would follow – is threatening to march its elected representatives to the building, so as to enter. Meanwhile, police have barricaded the entrance, fitting with the official dissolution.

What sort of protest will this become?

Even more far reaching could be a legal decision expected to be issued on the same day. A court will rule if the Muslim Brotherhood itself must be dissolved.

The Brotherhood had long been dubbed a ‘banned’ organization under Mubarak, but was allowed freedom of operation since the revolution. Yet it never registered. It is a non-state entity operating independently of all government oversight and regulation.

This was the same situation of the US and other NGOs shut down several months ago. They were allowed to operate in a quasi-legal arrangement in which registration was never granted. However much their closure represented a crackdown on pro-democracy activity, it was in accordance – somewhat – with the law.

Such is the situation of the Brotherhood now, only that unlike the Western NGOs, the MB never sought registration to begin with. It is hard to know if this is just a threat raised against the group or a card to pressure them with. But if there is a true and absolute struggle between the military council and the Muslim Brotherhood, this court decision could be a critical blow.

It is not certain what a ruling against the Brotherhood would do to a Morsy presidency, but it appears the political arm of the group would be allowed to stay. The Freedom and Justice Party did register successfully following the revolution, as did every other political party. Of course, few consider the FJP to be independent of the Brotherhood, so the separation between the two is sure to be murky.

Egypt never ceases to be interesting.

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