The timing of the Egyptian President Mohammed Mursi’s decision to issue a new constitutional deceleration was linked by some analysts to his success in ending Israel’s recent eight-day war on Gaza.
The Egyptian-sponsored ceasefire deal between the Israelis and the Gaza Strip's Hamas rulers gave Mursi, a “strong push” to issue new constitutional amendments which, observers saw, as an expansion of the president’s powers.
Interviewed by Al Arabiya English on Friday, observers argued that Mursi has made a set of “daring” decisions over the past weekend which showed his growing confidence and strength right after he played the role of a mediator in the ceasefire deal between the Palestinians and Israelis.
Musri issued a couple of decrees last Thursday that were read live on Egyptian television as the new constitutional declaration of the country was voiced.
The formerly member of the Muslim Brotherhood terminated the services of Egypt’s Prosecutor General Abdel Meguid Mahmoud to be replaced by Talaat Ibrahim.
In another decree, Mursi declared that Egypt will re-investigate crimes committed by the former regime, as well as the killings of demonstrators during last year’s mass anti-government protests. The other decree protects an assembly writing the country's new constitution from dissolution and gives it extra time to finish its work.
In the constitutional declaration, Musri widened his powers.
“The decisions constituted Mursi’s firm stance towards his country’s worsening political conditions,” argued Adel Suliman, head of Egypt’s International Center for Future and Strategic Studies, adding that “the Egyptian people started to feel that they had elected a strong president willing and capable of making strong decisions.”
The president’s ability to “sensibly” manage the crisis in Gaza and his role as a middleman between the Palestinian, Israeli, Americans and other regional players, along with his success in reaching a ceasefire agreement, gave him more confidence and more credibility before Egyptian people to go ahead and announce the amendments, according to Suliman.
“The situation needed a firm stance from the president, taking in consideration that he is the only source of power elected directly by people,” Suliman said, adding that “he [Mursi] had previously promised his people to realize the revolutions goals and the decisions have been taken for that purpose.”
The president’s decree to protect the constitution-drafting body is reasonable, according to Suliman, after the pressure some political parties had exercised on the Constituent Assembly.
“Mursi’s decrees will push Egypt forward and will help the country resume establishing its institutions in a democratic way,” Suliman added.
The timing of the constitutional declaration was shocking to some, yet, expected by others.
According to Mohammed Gomaa, a political expert from Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, Mursi hinted at these “exceptional decisions” over the past few days during his latest speeches about the Gaza conflict.
There is no doubt that the praise Mursi received from the U.S. Administration and the Muslim Brotherhood members on his role in the ceasefire deal made him assume that it was the “proper time” to release the constitutional amendments, Gomaa said.
However, Gomaa said, the president was going to announce these changes sooner or later, as they had been prepared earlier but he waited for a ‘proper time’ to announce them.
“Even without Gaza’s conflict, the amendments were going to take place,” Gomaa, pointing out that “the Gaza conflict gave the impression that the situation in Egypt is more ready to receive the new decrees.”
The political expert explained that Mursi wanted to “protect” the Constituent Assembly in the first place, saying that he knew that the current assembly had the same legal flaws that resulted in dissolving the previous one. “He knew the current assembly can be also challenged by law once again.”
“He wants to antecede the constitutional court’s ruling on the Constituent Assembly slated for December.”
Mursi’s recent decision, in Gomaa’s opinion, can be said to be an official “return” of the dissolved parliament.
When asked if he expected a return of the dissolved parliament, Gomaa said “I think Mursi had already reconvened the parliament, not still waiting to do so.”
Article two of the constitutional deceleration, which stipulates that all decisions, laws and rulings made and issued by the president since he took office “cannot be challenged by any authority, including the judiciary,” implies that the parliament is reconvened, according to Gomaa.
Last week’s violence at Mohamed Mahmoud Street between police and protesters was seen as a factor that speeded up Mursi’s decrees.
“The violence that erupted at Mohamed Mahmoud Street was one of the factors that made a quicker announcement of Mursi’s new decision,” Sluiman said.
However, the so-called “revolutionary” decisions by President Mursi were not meant to ease the escalating situation in the street but to issue the decrees, according to Gomaa.
“What is the relationship between issuing decrees to protect Egypt's constitution-drafting body and the Shura Council (the upper house of parliament), and taking revenge for the martyrs blood!” wondered Gomaa.