Egypt’s ruling military leadership, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), has decided that presidential elections will only be held after a new constitution is ratified. This means a likely delay of several months to the elections, currently scheduled for late May. The move follows a decision to bar ten presidential candidates from competing in the election, including former vice-president and military intelligence head General Omar Suleiman and the Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate Khairat al-Shater. The 100 member constitutional committee was suspended by the courts last week, after complaints by liberals about the strong representation from the Muslim Brotherhood-dominated parliament. The new constitution is likely to weaken the powers of the presidency and strengthen parliament, but will also have to resolve the question of the place of Islamic law in the Egyptian political system.
In the meantime, the security vacuum in Sinai continues to pose a threat both to Cairo and to Israel. Yesterday, the natural gas pipeline which supplies fuel to Israel and Jordan was again attacked, and two Egyptian policemen were killed in clashes with Islamic militants.