Thursday, 19 April 2012

Egypt: Muslim Brotherhood challenges the military

Critics of the Muslim Brotherhood say it has brought this mess over its candidate upon its own head. Its call for the current interim government to step down was a direct challenge to the military. It ended what appeared to be an agreement with the military. The Brotherhood would not demonstrate or rock the boat until after the handover of power. It agreed the timetable for elections for president, though with different aspirations. But when it decided to field its own candidate, and stuffed the constituent assembly with its own handpicked members and sympathisers, it was accused of overreaching itself and seeking to dominate political life like the former ruling party: the National Democratic Party (NDP) with beards.

Whatever happens in the presidential elections, the new president will have two enormous issues to deal with. The first is political. He will have to drive a path between a parliament dominated by the Islamists - the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) and al-Nour - and the military, which, though it has promised to withdraw from day to day running of the country, will still remain the final arbiter of political life.

The second main challenge will be the economy. The state finances are a mess. Foreign currency earnings have not picked up; tourists are put off by continuing instability. The government's response is to spend rather than to rein in spending. Whoever comes to power will be forced to impose very difficult austerity measures.

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

© 2012 Menas Associates

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