Egypt's army, Islamists agree on prez powers

The Muslim Brotherhood has reached some agreements with the army on the powers of Egypt’s first Islamist president and the fate of a now-dissolved Islamist-led parliament, Brotherhood officials said on Tuesday.

The newly elected president, Mohamed Mursi, toured his palace on Monday. But after savoring the outcome of a vote that installed him in place of the Brotherhood’s enemy Hosni Mubarak, he immediately went to see the generals in the Defence Ministry in a scene that seemed to underline who really calls the shots.

The Brotherhood, banned under Mubarak, sent its supporters onto the streets last week, promising open-ended protests after the Supreme Constitutional Court ordered the lower house dissolved, saying rules had been broken during its election six months ago.

That decision, backed by the army, threatened to force a new parliamentary election, which erode the bloc won by the Brotherhood and its allies, and undermine one of the biggest gains of the revolt that toppled Mubarak last year.

Mursi was declared the winner on Sunday, a nail-biting week after voting ended. During the wait, the Brotherhood and the army held discreet talks, officials on both sides said.

The new president will be sworn in on Saturday, probably before the Constitutional Court, and the Brotherhood will also stage a symbolic swearing-in ceremony in Tahrir Square, according to Yasser Ali, an aide to Mursi.

The presidential election has set the stage for a tussle between the military, which has provided Egypt’s rulers for six decades, and the Brotherhood, the traditional opposition - sidelining secular liberals who drove the anti-Mubarak uprising. “We are working on reaching a compromise on various items so all parties are able to work together in the future,” said Essam Haddad, a senior member of the Brotherhood and also an aide to Mursi.

Haddad, who accompanied Mursi on his tour of the presidential palace, said the negotiations had covered possible amendments to the army's constitutional decree limiting the president's powers.

Haddad said the military would keep control of its budget and internal affairs, but the generals would have to keep their hands off an assembly charged with writing a new constitution.

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