Concern grew after last night's announcement by the head of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), Hussein Tantawi, that a military defence council had been set up. The timing of the announcement, as well as the real duties of the new body, which are yet to be clearly defined, have seen the level of tension turned up a notch. Yesterday's long political day began with a brief press conference shortly before dawn by the Muslim Brotherhood candidate, Mohamed Morsi, who surprised opponents and supporters alike by claiming victory in the election. The reaction from his opponent, Ahmed Shafiq, the final Prime Minister of the Mubarak era, was not long in coming. Shafiq's aides categorically denied that Morsi had earned a 52% share of the vote, as Morsi himself had claimed a few hours earlier.
While Morsi's supporters flocked to Tahrir Square from dawn to celebrate victory, a gruelling war of figures began between the two camps ahead of Thursday's official announcement of results. The power struggle between the armed forces and the Muslim Brotherhood is entering a crucial stage, as demonstrated by the repeated rejection by the Islamist party to recognise the dissolution of Parliament. The stand-off could also affect the formation of the new government, with the executive led by the current Prime Minister, Kamal Ganzouri, expected to resign once the new President is sworn in.
A few hours after the polls closed and following the publication in the official gazette of a constitutional addition giving new powers to SCAF once Parliament is dissolved, the armed forces announced in a press conference that they would respect the timeframe of handing over power to the new President by the end of June. The elected head of state will receive "all powers" included in the constitutional addition, which includes the freedom to appoint a Minister of Defence, the senior SCAF official, Mamdouh Shaheen, explained. The military council denied that the President's powers had been scaled down. "They are completely intact," said Shaheen in answer to the barrage of criticism that has rained down on the new text, which also gives the military power to name a new Constituent Assembly and rules that fresh elections can only be held after the implementation of a new constitution and its approval by a popular referendum.
Military diktats on the break-up of all newly-appointed organisations has been resisted by two deputies, who were pushed back by security forces as they tried to enter Parliament, and above all by Egypt's Constituent Assembly.
The body, which was appointed by Parliament just before its break-up, met at the Shura, the upper chamber, which has no legislative powers and, unlike the other parliamentary chamber, has not been dissolved. Hossam el-Gheriyani, the chair of the supreme council of the judiciary, was appointed chair of the body, while Ayman Nour, who ran against Mubarak in the 2005 presidential elections, and Abul el-Madi, the head of the Waasat party, created by breakaway members of the Muslim Brotherhood, have been named his deputies. (ANSAmed).