Egypt has plunged deeper into political uncertainty as both presidential candidates claim victory following a runoff election and the country's ruling generals move to further assert their power.
The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) repeated on Monday its pledge to hand over authority to a civilian government by the end of the month.
Mohammed al-Assar, one of the generals, said during a lengthy press conference in Cairo that there would be a "grand ceremony" to mark the transition.
"We'll never tire or be bored from assuring everyone that we will hand over power before the end of June," he said.
Yet the council has moved in the last 24 hours to sharply curtail the powers of the incoming president. SCAF will retain authority over the budget and the legislative process until a new parliament is elected, according to a decree issued on Sunday night.
The decree even limits the new president's powers as commander-in-chief, stating that he can only declare war "with the approval of the military council."
Both sides claim victory
It still was not clear, nearly 24 hours after polls closed, who that next president will be.
Mohammed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood's candidate, claimed victory in the early hours of Monday morning.
The Brotherhood's unofficial tally had Morsi leading with about 12.7 million votes, or 52.5 per cent of the total. Several other counts from media organisations, including Al Jazeera, also showed Morsi with a narrow lead.
"Thank God, who guided the people of Egypt to this right path, the path of freedom and democracy," Morsi said during his victory speech, vowing to work for a "civil, democratic, constitutional and modern state".
The Brotherhood said it was confident in its figures, and indeed their unofficial counts have been accurate in past elections. "Our official numbers in round one matched exactly the [presidential election commission's] final numbers," the group said in a statement.
But his opponent, Ahmed Shafiq, the final prime minister under deposed president Hosni Mubarak, rejected Morsi's claim of victory and accused him of trying to "usurp" the presidency.
"What the other candidate has done threatens Egypt's future and stability," he said in a statement.
Shafiq's campaign said their own internal figures showed their candidate leading with about 52 per cent of the vote, and accused Morsi's camp of miscounting millions of ballots.
Separation of powers
The generals did not address the electoral confusion during Monday's press conference. They instead tried to rebut criticism of their decree, a so-called "constitutional annex" which will govern the country until a new constitution is drafted.
Mamdouh Shahin, another of the generals, said that the president would still have the authority to ratify or reject any laws approved by SCAF.
SCAF dissolved parliament last week following a ruling by the supreme court, which found the legislature unconstitutional. The court ruled that provisions of the electoral law -- which allowed political parties to compete for seats reserved for independent candidates -- violated the constitution.
With the legislature gone, the generals reasserted control over the legislative process, and over the country's budget.
"The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces shall exercise the powers referred to under the first clause of article 56 [the article on legislative power]... until the election of a new People's Assembly," the decree states.
The decree promises fresh legislative elections, but not until a new constitution has been drafted.
Before it was dissolved, the parliament appointed a 100-member assembly to draft that constitution; it will be allowed to continue its work, though if it runs into "obstacles", SCAF will appoint a replacement.
The Muslim Brotherhood was quick to condemn the decree, calling it "null and unconstitutional" in a brief statement on Twitter.
Asked about the decree during the group's press conference, Ahmed Abdel-Atti, Morsi's campaign co-ordinator, said he expected "popular action" against it in the near future.
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