Photograph by Marwan Naamani/AFP/Getty Images.
UPDATE: The wait for results in the Egyptian presidential elections would be suspenseful enough at this point without the constitutional tweaks announced by the country's ruling military. But it's the latter story that's overshadowing what was otherwise a historic weekend of elections for the country.
As the New York Times explains, those constitutional amendments appear to be in anticipation of a possible victory for the Muslim Brotherhood's Mohamed Morsi. The Islamist party and several Egyptian news agencies on Monday declared victory for Morsi in his run-off for the presidency with Ahmed Shafik, Hosni Mubarak's former prime minister. Soon after, however, Shafiq also declared victory, according to Ahram Online, further clouding what has been an increasingly confusing past few days for Egypt.
After dissolving the country's newly elected parliament, Egypt's high court essentially cleared the way for the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces to take control of the country's constitutional rewriting process. Late on Sunday, the SCAF released a series of amendments to Egypt's interim constitution. The amendments, readable here in an unofficial English translation, grant the military autonomy and nullify much of the president's power in the country. Understandably, the amendments raised alarm. In a press conference on Monday, the SCAF said that critics were "blowing this out of proportion" and insisted its powers were subservient to those of parliament, as the Guardian reports.
Friday, June 15: After Egypt's military rulers dissolved the country's newly-elected parliament and cleared the way for former Mubarak Prime Minister Ahmed Shafik to compete in the run-off election for president, the leaders of the revolution that removed Mubarak from power are struggling to understand where they apparently went wrong.
Reuters reports that many unhappy with the two choices in Saturday's presidential run-off election between Shafik and Islamist candidate Mohamed Morsi are planning to boycott the election or deface their ballots in protest. Ahmed Ali, a 44-year-old janitor, explained the situation like so: "Many Egyptians died in the uprising last year and in the end we are being forced to choose between the old corrupt regime we overthrew and a movement that has its own Islamist agenda. I will spoil my ballot."
Meanwhile, others question whether the revolutionaries were too timid in the post-Mubarak power grab, failing to meaningfully insert themselves into Egyptian politics, which is currently more or less a stand-off between Mubarak loyalists and Islamists. As the New York Times reports, some are hoping to use the elections to reboot support for another wave of protests—that is, if Saturday's elections happen as planned.
Thursday, June 14: Egypt was plunged yet again into turmoil and confusion Thursday as the nation's highest court ordered the dissolution of the country's newly-elected lower house of parliament after ruling that much of the Islamist-dominated body was elected illegally.
The Supreme Constitutional Court also ruled that last prime minister to serve under President Hosni Mubarak can stay in the presidential election, striking down a law that had banned members of the ousted dictator's party from taking part in nation's new government.
The Associated Press explains that the rulings are "twin blows to the Muslim Brotherhood that could sweep away its political gains since Mubarak's ouster 16 months ago." The justices, it should be noted, were Mubarak appointees.
Reuters explains that the court ruled that the laws governing the elections were invalid, necessitating the dissolution of the entire lower house, which is the more powerful of the two legislative bodies. The Muslim Brotherhood controlled just under half of the seats in the lower chamber, which had been in session for about four months before Thursday's surprise ruling.
The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, which has been in control of the country since the fall of the Mubarak regime, announced that it now has full legislative power in the country. That, according to CNN, means that the military leaders will be able to appoint a 100-person panel to rewrite the country's constitution.
Ahmed Shafik, Mubarak's former prime minister, is set to face-off against the Brotherhood's Mohamed Morsi in the presidential runoff that will begin this weekend. For more, the Guardian is live-blogging the chaotic fallout from the rulings.