The Pentagon said on Monday it was “deeply concerned” about the Egyptian military’s decree of an amended constitutional document which hands it sweeping powers, including legislative control.
“We’re deeply concerned about new amendments to the constitution declaration, including the timing of their announcements as polls were closing for the presidential election,” spokesman George Little told reporters.
According to the constitutional decree, the ruling military council (SCAF) will retain the powers to legislate until a new parliament is elected.
The SCAF will also be responsible for deciding on all matters related to the armed forces and the head of SCAF, rather than the new president, will be the head of the armed forces until a new constitution is written. The president can only declare war with SCAF’s approval.
If the assembly tasked with writing a new constitution faces any hurdles in completing its job, SCAF has one week to form another assembly that represents “all forces in society”.
Egypt’s constitutional court effectively annulled the Islamist-dominated parliament last Thursday, ruling that a third of its members had been elected illegally, and the military subsequently informed the body that it considered it dissolved.
Before the court ruling, the parliament had selected a constituent assembly to draft the constitution, replacing an earlier group that had been disbanded amid accusations of an Islamist monopoly.
The Pentagon spokesman said the United States called on SCAF to hand over “full power” to civilian leaders as it has promised.
“We support the Egyptian people and their expectation that the SCAF will transfer full power to a democratically elected civilian government, as the SCAF previously announced,” he said.
“We have and will continue to urge the SCAF to relinquish power to civilian elected authorities,” he said.
The Brotherhood movement rejected the dissolution of the parliament, which they dominate, saying the body still has the power to legislate.
“The parliament remains valid and holds legislative power and control,” the Freedom and Justice Party, the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood, said in a statement issued hours after the Islamist movement said its candidate Mohammed Mursi had won a key presidential election.