From: The Daily Star | DailyStar.com.lb | November 28, 2011
CAIRO: Fierce wrangling intensified Sunday between Egypt’s military rulers and its political leaders over the powers granted to the future government on the eve of the country’s first post-Mubarak parliamentary elections.
The power struggle has thrust the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces into the ring with the influential Muslim Brotherhood and leading political figure Mohamed ElBaradei.
The Cabinet appointed by the army after Hosni Mubarak’s February ouster was meant to steer the country through the transition, but the military’s plan fell apart when the government led by Essam Sharaf resigned last week.
After days of violent demonstrations, the army said it would stick by its choice of a new prime minister, 78-year-old Mubarak-era politician Kamal al-Ganzouri.
SCAF chief Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi has asked leading political figures and presidential hopefuls ElBaradei and Amr Moussa to support the new premier.
But doing so would be a risk for the two popular politicians because Ganzouri has been widely rejected by protesters in Tahrir Square.
ElBaradei, a former U.N. nuclear watchdog chief, said he was prepared to abandon his presidential bid if asked by the military to head a national salvation government.
The government “must be given full powers to steer the transitional period, re-establish security, revive the economy and achieve the goals of the Egyptian revolution,” a statement from his office said.
According to politician Hossam Eissa, the idea of a national “salvation government” proposed by demonstrators in Tahrir Square has been accepted by El-Baradei.
The Muslim Brotherhood is confident of a strong win in parliament. Sunday it looked beyond the polls and said it should be asked to form a government if it emerges as the largest party.
Violence over the past week has seen 42 people die as police used live ammunition and tear gas which has cast a pall over the start of voting.
The unrest has led to calls for the elections – spread in three stages over six weeks in a complicated process – to be delayed. The generals say elections will be held on schedule despite the unrest, in what is now seen by many activists and protesters to be serving the military’s efforts to project an image of itself as the nation’s saviors.
Mohammed al-Qassas, a founder of The Egyptian Current party, which was born out of the revolution, described the general atmosphere as “saddening,” but said he will vote just to “put my voice in the ballot.”