My first column for the print edition of the Egypt Independent published on July 12 is now online:
The inauguration of the country’s first elected president on 30 June was meant to mark the final step in the country’s so-called “transition,” with a long-heralded handover of power from the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces to a civilian government, complete with an elected parliament and a new constitution.
Instead, a year and a half after the revolution began, astonishingly little has been accomplished with regard to laying down the foundations of a post-Hosni Mubarak state. The popularly elected People’s Assembly was dissolved, and the Shura Council appears to be headed to a similar fate. The Constituent Assembly tasked with drafting the new constitution is facing deep divisions, and an upcoming court case challenging its legitimacy may result in the disbanding of the 100-member body for a second time.
In fact, the presidency is the only significant elected representative office in government, though its powers have been severely curtailed by an 11th-hour constitutional declaration, issued unilaterally by the ruling generals, that carves out SCAF as a fourth branch of government in what has been dubbed the final stage of a constitutional coup.
Meanwhile, the state budget for the upcoming fiscal year was put together by the SCAF-appointed Cabinet and approved by the military generals, without any prior consultation, in the absence of a sitting parliament. Critics say the new budget allows for little social and fiscal reform.
President Mohamed Morsy has yet to form a government but he is widely expected to cede control over assigning the “sovereign” ministries, that by most accounts include Defense, Interior, Foreign, Justice, Finance and Information, to the military. The very notion of a “sovereign ministry” within an elected government is a profoundly undemocratic one and its casual acceptance is a testament to the entrenched nature of the deep state in Egypt.