Stark choice for Egypt in presidential vote

Reuters Africa

AIRO (Reuters) – Egyptians voted on Saturday in the first free presidential election in their history that for many offers a choice of the lesser of two evils – a military man who served deposed autocrat Hosni Mubarak or an Islamist who says he is running for God.

Reeling from a court order two days ago to dissolve a new parliament dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood, many question whether the wealthy generals who pushed aside their fellow officer Mubarak last year to appease the pro-democracy protests of the Arab Spring will honour a pledge to let civilians rule.

“Egypt chooses a president today without a constitution or a parliament,” Al-Masry Al-Youm daily wrote in a front-page headline, highlighting the uncertainty many Egyptians feel 16 months after Mubarak’s 30-year rule ended with mass protests.

With neither a parliament nor a new constitution in place to

define the president’s powers, Saturday and Sunday’s run-off vote will not settle the matter, leaving 82 million Egyptians, foreign investors and allies in the United States and Europe unsure what kind of state the most populous Arab nation will be.

Whoever wins, the army retains the upper hand. A Shafik presidency means a man steeped in military tradition will be back in charge, just like all the other previous presidents. If Morsy wins, the military can still influence how much executive authority he has in the yet-to-be-written constitution.  Read more…

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