Carter says Egypt army unlikely to give up all powers

Fri Jan 13, 2012 6:23am GMT

By Ashraf Fahim and Sherine El Madany

CAIRO (Reuters) - Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter said on Thursday, after meeting Egypt's military rulers and political parties, the army was unlikely to surrender all of its powers by mid-2012, highlighting the potential for further power struggles.

The military council, in power since an uprising ousted President Hosni Mubarak in February, has faced mounting public anger over what is widely viewed as stalling and mismanagement of the transition period.

Dozens of protesters demanding an end to army rule have been killed in bouts of violence in the past 11 months.

"I think to have an abrupt change in the totality of the military authority at the end of June or this year is more than we can expect," Carter told Reuters in an interview.

"A clear message has to go out that in the future for Egypt, whenever that time comes, there will be complete civilian control over all aspects of the government affairs and the military will play its role under the direction of an elected president and an elected parliament."

Public dismay pushed the ruling generals to accelerate the timetable to relinquish power, pledging to stand aside by mid-2012. But many dissidents say the military is keen to preserve its privileges and broad business interests.

Carter, 87, is in Cairo with a group from his human rights organisation, the Carter Center, to help monitor the end of the final round of Egypt's first parliamentary elections since Mubarak was ousted.

"My guess is that the military would like to retain as much control as possible for as long as possible, still accepting the results of the revolution and the election," he said.   Continued...

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter (L) speaks with Mohamed Mursi, the head of the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party, during their meeting in Cairo, Egypt. January 12, 2012. REUTERS/Stringer
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