On Sunday, Morsi nullified a constitutional declaration written by the supreme military council during the period it governed Egypt that gave the council the final say over who can write the nation’s permanent constitution. The president’s new declaration gave himself that power.
That’s likely to influence the outcome of the debate over Article Two of the current constitution, which calls for shariah, or Islamic jurisprudence, to be the presiding law of the land. Although in place for decades, it wasn’t aggressively enforced under Mubarak and his generals.
A more forceful application of that law, however, is a key tenet of the Muslim Brotherhood. While Morsi resigned from the Muslim Brotherhood on taking office, its influence permeates his administration. The days and weeks ahead will answer how much he’ll use his newfound authorities to put similarly minded officials in office to carry out the Brotherhood’s interpretation of Article Two, observers said.
“What it means is that the Brotherhood is going to be able to dominate yet another aspect of Egypt’s political transition, unchecked,” said Eric Trager, a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a research center.
Even the duration of these changes remained unclear. Just two months ago, the military ruled the nation and made grabs for political power. And just as the military once claimed when it made similarly bold pronouncements over the past year of transition, Morsi told the nation in a televised address Sunday that he had Egypt’s best interests at heart.
Some uttered another president’s name and another era: “Anwar Sadat, 1971,” referring to Sadat forcing out hundreds of military commanders who he thought were too close to his predecessor, Gamal Abdel Nasser. The difference is that under Sadat, a former army general, the military continued to define both governance and the economy.
With the removal of Mubarak’s generals at the hands of a civilian president who was once arrested by the army, Morsi appeared to transform the post-Mubarak period from a revolt to a potential revolution – for now at least.
“At this point Egypt’s revolt has become a revolution, because a new group has asserted total power. But I certainly don’t think it is completely settled,” Trager said.
McClatchy special correspondent Amina Ismail contributed to this report.