Political uncertainty deepens in Egypt

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.”

Sameh Ashour, the head of SCAF’s advisory council, said in an interview with Al Jazeera that the incoming president would likely have a short term, and would be replaced after a new constitution was drafted.

“The upcoming president will occupy the office for a short period of time, whether or not he agrees,” Ashour said. “His office term will be short despite the huge efforts exerted in the election campaigns.”

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.

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