May 24, 2013
Egypt parliament set to meet, defying army
Egypt's parliamentary speaker said the chamber would reconvene tomorrow, risking a showdown with the army after the new, Islamist president defied the generals by quashing the dissolution of the legislature they had ordered last month.
Quoted by the state news agency today, Saad al-Katatni, who like President Mohamed Mursi hails from the long-suppressed Muslim Brotherhood, said the lower house would sit from noon (0600 EDT) on Tuesday, overturning a court judgment and military order issued a month ago, before Mursi's election.
The move, heralded by a decree issued by Mursi yesterday, barely a week after he took office, threatens Egypt with fresh political uncertainty likely to take a toll on a fragile economy and dash the hopes of many desperate for a period of calm after 17 turbulent months since the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak.
However, in a signal that relations have far from broken down between Mursi and the army, the president and the head of the military council appeared together, looking relaxed and in conversation, at a televised event this morning.
The military council which had run Egypt since Mubarak was toppled by popular protests in February 2011 handed powers to Mursi on June 30, but it had sought to trim his authority shortly before he took office following a June 16-17 vote. It had dissolved parliament and taken legislative power for itself.
Yet in a move that seemed to take even the generals by surprise, Mursi said on Sunday he was recalling parliament and would hold an election once a constitution was in place, meaning the parliament would not serve a full four-year term.
The row is part of a broader power struggle which could take years to play out, pitting long suppressed Islamists against generals whose fellow officers ran Egypt for six decades and an establishment still packed with Mubarak-era officials.