Egypt’s changing political landscape


CAIRO – Egypt will elect a new president
by the end of the year, the ruling military council announced, laying out more
details of the political transition which Egyptians hope will produce a democratic

The new head of state would be
elected a month or two after parliamentary elections scheduled for September,
said Mamdouh Shaheen, a member of the military council which has governed since
popular protests toppled Hosni Mubarak on 11 February.

“The military council will
give up legislative powers to the new parliament once it is formed and will
give up the remaining presidential powers to the president once a new president
takes office,” Shaheen said.

Candidates for the position held by
Mubarak for three decades include Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa and
former U.N. nuclear watchdog chief Mohamed ElBaradei, both civilians seeking a
job held by former military men since the 1950s.

The election will be held according
to new rules that open up competition for the position and limit presidents to
two, four-year terms.

Mubarak was in his fifth, six-year
term when he was swept from power by a mass uprising.

Governing by decree, the military
also issued a temporary constitution that will serve as the legal basis for
government until a new constitution is drawn up.

It reiterates the old constitution’s
stipulation that Islam is the religion of the state and says the principles of
the sharia are the primary source of legislation.

It declares Egypt a democratic
state, says peaceful protests are allowed and guarantees freedom of expression
and free press.

The new parliament is set to draft
an entirely new constitution — a process that could take a year or more.

Egyptians who took to the streets
to topple Mubarak are still pressing demands for deep reform to an autocratic
system of government.

Activists have called for a large
rally in central Cairo on Friday “to protect the revolution.”