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With no official word as to the winner of Egypt’s presidential runoff until June 21, both candidates have declared victory in last Sunday’s election. However, whether Mohammed Morsi, the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate who appears to have won by a 52-48 percent margin, or Ahmed Shafik, former President Hosni Mubarak’s last prime minster, is victorious, Egypt’s military has severely limited the powers of the president and the parliament.
The move comes after Egypt’s highest court declared last week that the parliamentary elections – in which the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist parties won an overwhelming majority – were declared illegal. The court ruled that independent parties were not given enough opportunity to run. The parliament’s first task was to draft a constitution for Egypt.
After the parliament was dissolved, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) gave itself judicial, parliamentary and presidential powers. The SCAF is composed of the top 20 military leaders of Egypt and has been responsible for running the country since Mubarak was ousted by Egypt’s budding revolution.
Monday, the SCAF released an interim constitutional declaration which states that the military council has full authority to make laws and budgets until a new parliament can be elected. The declaration also says that the council “shall decide all matters related to military affairs, including the appointment of its leaders” and that the council even has the final say in the event that the president declares war. In addition, the military gave themselves sweeping powers to arrest civilians under broad terms -- from protesters inhibiting traffic flow to those hurting the economy by striking.
Thousands of protesters took to the streets Tuesday night in Cairo’s Tahrir Square outraged by what they have called a coup by the military rulers and to show their support for Morsi, the Islamist candidate.
Meanwhile, conflicting reports began to pour into the Egyptian media as to whether or not Mubarak had died after suffering a heart attack and stroke. A news agency declared Mubarek clinically dead while the SCAF said he was in a coma.
CNN reports that Mohamed el Omda, a former member of parliament with the Muslim Brotherhood, complained that the "powerful TV channels" in Egypt are owned by businessmen collaborating with the military council.
"They tried to destroy the image of the parliament in preparation for this step that was taken to dissolve the parliament," Omda said.
El Omda made his statements in front of the parliament building, where police prevented formerly elected members of parliament from entering.