Thursday, 17 February 2011

Egypt's Supreme Military Council settles into its role

President Hosni Mubarak finally submitted to popular, and eventually military, pressure and reluctantly stood down on 11th February. On the previous day, he had made a speech saying that he was staying but would hand over some of his powers to Vice President Umar Suleiman. The large crowds in Tahrir Square and elsewhere in Cairo were extremely disappointed, as was the US government, and called for a massive show of protest the following day. There was an enormous response in Cairo and other Egyptian cities but it remained peaceful. It was the sheer size and spread of the protest that finally brought down Mubarak after nearly 30 years in power.

Umar Suleiman, who has not been heard of since 11th February, said that power was being handed over to the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces. Shortly afterward, the Council confirmed that it would take over the administration of the State for a period of six months or until parliamentary and presidential elections could be held. It suspended the constitution and dissolved parliament, and said it would rule by decree.

The chair of the Supreme Military Council (Field Marshall Hussein Tantawi) would represent it “internally and externally” while the Council would set up a committee to amend the constitution and prepare for a popular referendum to endorse its proposals. In the meantime, the government led by former commander of the Air Force, Ahmad Shafik, would continue as before until a new one can be formed.

Crucially, the Council announced that it accepts all of Egypt's international agreements. A move intended to show that it was committed to the peace treaty with Israel.

For more news and expert analysis about Egypt, please see Egypt Politics & Security.

© 2011 Menas Associates

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