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The Rebellion Movement Denounces Mansour’s Constitutional Principles as Dictatorial

If the Egyptian military and judicial elite thought that they could use the youthful Rebellion Movement, which put three or four million demonstrators in the streets a week and a half ago, to restore the status quo before the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak, they probably miscalculated.

Rebellion denounced as “dictatorial” interim president Adly Mansour’s Monday declaration of the constitutional principles that would guide Egypt during the transition to a new constitution. The principles gave the president way too much power, including the power to appoint cabinet ministers (even though he is appointing a new prime minister), and they do not sufficiently safeguard individual liberties, Rebellion coordinator Mahmoud Badr said.

Badr announced that Mansour had agreed to amend the constitutional declaration. He told the newspaper “al-Misri al-Yawn” that Rebellion had expressed reservations about the constitutional declaration, including the paragraphs related to expanded powers for the president, to the role of the two houses of parliament, and the drafting committee for the constitution.

Badr had complained at Rebellion’s Facebook page that the organization had not been consulted about the constitutional declaration before it was announced, and that it had not been shown, either, to Dr. Muhammad Elbaradei, and both were surprised, as was everyone else. Elbaradei is admired by many Egyptian youth and has been appointed as a vice president for foreign affairs.

Mansour, who has no grass roots power base other than potentially the Rebellion Movement, might face demonstrations against himself if he continues to act so high-handedly. And it seems that he knows it.

Mansour on Tuesday appointed Hazem Biblawi, a well-regarded economist, as prime minister.

Deposed president Muhammad Morsi had been a poor steward of the economy, and Biblawi at least has some idea of the necessary steps to recovery.

Biblawi was greeted warmly in his new position by the hard line fundamentalist Salafi movement, which appears to have rejoined the ruling coalition. Manour wants the Salafis inside the ruling coalition if at all possible. That way, he can claim support from a stratum of the religious Right in Egypt and does not absolutely need the Muslim Brotherhood.

After the horrific shooting by the army of 51 Muslim Brothers in front of the Republican Guards’ barracks on Monday morning, Egypt has been extremely tense, but there was not substantial new violence on Tuesday. Interim President Mansour says that he is appointed a commission to investigate the deaths.

Juan Cole

Juan Cole

Juan Cole teaches Middle Eastern and South Asian history at the University of Michigan. His new book, The New Arabs: How the Millennial Generation Is Changing the Middle East (Simon and Schuster), will officially be published July 1st. He is also the author of Engaging the Muslim World and Napoleon's Egypt: Invading the Middle East (both Palgrave Macmillan). He has appeared widely on television, radio and on op-ed pages as a commentator on Middle East affairs, and has a regular column at He has written, edited, or translated 14 books and has authored 60 journal articles. His weblog on the contemporary Middle East is Informed Comment.

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