The Egyptian political scene was divided Monday morning between outbursts of joy and a morose sense of tragedy as preliminary results in Egypt’s presidential vote indicated victory for the Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohammed Morsi. In the background loomed the military, which indicated through a new interim constitution that it was here to stay.
In his victory speech Morsi was conciliatory, promising to be the president of all Egyptians and confirming his commitment to peace “toward all lovers of peace in this world.”
“Revolutionaries! Free men! We will go all the way!” chanted Brotherhood supporters in Morsi’s headquarters. In a street demonstration in Cairo they shouted, “Egypt is a state, not a military base.”
But Ahmed Shafiq, Morsi’s independent adversary, accused the Muslim Brotherhood of lying, claiming that the movement had planned to announced its victory prematurely in order to deceive the public.
A YouTube video released by Shafiq’s campaign titled “warning number one,” predicted that the “evil Muslim Brotherhood” would send activists to the streets before polls closed on Sunday evening and declare victory.
But beyond the political bickering on Monday morning, bipartisan rage was directed at the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) which had issued an interim constitution ensuring it sweeping prerogatives. Under the new constitution, the military council maintains complete legislative powers as well as the authority to appoint a new constitutional assembly.
The Revolutionary Youth Union issued a statement Monday in which it accused SCAF of refusing to hand over power to a civil authority.
Tamer Kadi, a spokesman for the union, said the constitutional declaration was “a constitutional crime against the revolution,” adding that those who issued it must be brought to justice.
Liberal poet and journalist Abd Al-Rahman Youssef was more blunt in his assessment of the new constitution.
“A summary of the constitutional declaration: ‘We are your masters, you dogs!!'” he wrote of the SCAF on his Twitter page. “If we do not all unite against the shameful constitutional declaration, we will be cursed by history and end up denigrated and imprisoned,” he continued.
The Revolutionary Youth Coalition, an umbrella group, called on supporters to change their Facebook photo to the word “no” on a red background, expressing their rejection of what they considered a military coup.
The Muslim Brotherhood, too, lashed out at the military.
“I am an Egyptian citizen and I refuse the military coup of the non-constitutional declaration,” read a banner on the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party’s Facebook page.
On Sunday afternoon, Muslim Parliament speaker Saad Katatni met with Egyptian Chief of Staff Sami Anan and warned him against issuing a constitutional declaration. Katatni told Annan that such a constitution would have no legal standing, the Freedom and Justice party announced.
The Brotherhood did not call for direct confrontation with the military Monday, but such confrontation — in one form or another — seems inevitable.