Islamist candidate claims victory in Egyptian presidential race; military expands power

Bryna Godar

The balance of power in Egypt waivered Monday as the military expanded power, Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood claimed victory in the presidential race and the military council pledged to hand over power by the end of June, according to the Associated Press.

The ruling military council issued an interim constitution late Sunday night granting itself broad power over the future government and seemingly reducing the president to a "powerless figurehead," the New York Times reported.

The New York Times said the move all but eliminates the president’s authority "in an apparent effort to guard against just such a victory."

The military dissolved the freely elected, Islamist-dominated Parliament last week, according to the Star Tribune. The military's new charter gives them control of all laws and the national budget, immunity from any oversight and the power to veto a declaration of war, the New York Times reported.

Hours after Morsi claimed victory, however, the military council pledged to hand over power to the newly elected president by the end of June, according to the Associated Press.

Maj-Gen. Mohammed al-Assar, a senior member of the ruling council, said the generals would transfer power in a "grand ceremony," the Associated Press reported. He did not give an exact date or mention Morsi by name.

Official results for the presidential race have not yet been announced, but the Brotherhood released a tally that showed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood took nearly 52 percent of the vote to defeat Mubarak's last Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq with about 48 percent in a very close race, according to the Associated Press. They reported that the count was based on results announced by election officials at individual polling centers, where each campaign has representatives who compile and release the numbers before the formal announcement.