By Mai Shams El-Din
CAIRO: Egypt’s military leaders dissolved parliament and suspended the constitution Sunday in an attempt to meet the key demands of protesters after Hosni Mubarak stepped down.
“In a country like Egypt, with a pharaonic legacy, having no president and no head of state is not easy,” said Amr El-Choubaki, a member of the Council of Wise Men — a self-appointed group of prominent figures who are allied with the protesters and helping to mediate the crisis.
The Supreme Council of Armed Forces also decided to form a committee to amend changes to some articles of the constitution and to set the rules for a popular referendum to endorse the amendments.
The current caretaker cabinet will be in charge until a new one is formed. The ruling military council reiterated that it would abide by all of Egypt’s international treaties, most importantly the peace treaty with Israel.
The council said it will run the country for six months, or until presidential and parliamentary elections are held.
Concerns were mounting as the army did not suspend emergency law after promises in the earlier communiqués to cancel it. Many speculated that suspending the constitution would automatically suspend emergency law.
“This is wrong, a law is lower than the constitution,” said Raafat Fouda, lawyer and professor of constitutional law at Cairo University.
“Suspending the constitution does not mean suspending the emergency law.”
Working with the emergency law is part of the authorization given by former President Mubarak to the Supreme Council of Armed Forces to administer state affairs, according to Fouda.
Other concerns were related to the continuation of military rule for the remaining six months, which may put Egypt under strict martial laws.
“Egypt has been under martial law since 1981, and emergency law is part of this. The fact that the army is using them is because the authorization given by Mubarak includes all the laws that were functioning during his rule.” Fouda added.
In earlier communiqués, Egypt’s new military leadership vowed Saturday to pave the way for democracy and abide by its peace treaty with Israel, as Egyptians basked in their victory a day after Hosni Mubarak stepped down.
The same tone was emphasized in the fifth communique.
“The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces believes that human freedom, the rule of law, support for the value of equality, pluralistic democracy, social justice, and the uprooting of corruption are the basis for the legitimacy of any system of governance that will lead the country in the upcoming period.” –Additional reporting by AP.