Friday, 7 October 2011

SCAF to hand over power at the right time

Head of Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) Field Marshall Hussein Tantawi has said that the army has no interest in remaining in power but will not hand over to a civilian authority until the time is right. Tantawi, who is also the country's defence minister, assumed his current position on 11th February after the ousting of former president Hosni Mubarak. Speaking on 5th October, Tantawi said: "We will not abandon Egypt before we finish what we pledged to do and committed ourselves to before the people. The military council has no interest in staying [in power] for a long time. Given the chance, the military council will step down tomorrow."

He also dismissed speculations that SCAF would nominate its own candidate for elections. He said: "These are rumours that are not worthy of stopping to consider, and neither should we spend time talking about them.”

Tantawi's remarks come four days after his number two and chief of the general staff, Gen Sami Anan, met representatives of different political parties to discuss the timescale for handover of power. In the timeframe he outlined, there would be no presidential elections until the end of next year at the earliest. Anan also said that SCAF was not “seeking to prolong the transitional period. It is committed to a clear and precise timetable to transfer power after the election of a president”.

According to the discussed plan, once elected the People's Assembly would meet in late March or early April to choose a 100-member committee to draft a new constitution. The committee would have six months to conclude its work and the document would then be put to a popular vote by referendum. The adoption of a new constitution, delineating the powers of the executive, would then open the way for presidential elections. But this would not happen until the end of 2012 at the earliest.

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

© 2011 Menas Associates

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