Egypt’s political parties want to take power away from military, says Jimmy Carter

Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood and other political groups want to assume full authority over state affairs, despite efforts by the country’s ruling generals to retain some power after transition to civilian rule, former United States president Jimmy Carter said on a visit to the country yesterday.

The 87-year-old was in Cairo to visit the mission of his American-based Carter Centre to monitor Egypt’s staggered parliamentary elections since voting started in late November.

“The leaders of the major political parties, including the Muslim Brotherhood, have assured me that their plans are that the final decision about a military budget and all other affairs will be made by the parliament members and not the military,” Mr Carter said.

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Voting for the lower house of Egypt’s parliament wrapped up this week. The Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist parties dominated the vote, winning more than 60 per cent of the seats.

Mr Carter also met military leaders during his four-day trip to Egypt, and said they suggested they want to retain certain privileges in future after a civilian government takes over.

Military rulers have claimed the parliament would not be totally representative of Egypt, and have tried on several occasions to undermine its authority to select a committee to draft the country’s new constitution or appoint and fire a new government.

Many expect a fierce struggle over the military’s future role and privileges, pitting the generals against the new parliament and the youth groups who led protests against ousted president Hosni Mubarak.