Early last month, the BBC’s Shaimaa Khalil stated that in “the [first] 100 days of his presidency Mohammed Mursi has managed to surprise Egyptians on many occasions. The very fact that he was elected at all was surprising to many. Mr Mursi was propelled to power by the Muslim Brotherhood when their original candidate, business tycoon Khairat al-Shater, was disqualified from the presidential race. This won Mr Mursi titles like “The Accidental President” and “The Spare Wheel”. From the outset there were many doubts about whether he would be able to take charge of a country marred by a collapsing economy and a volatile security situation . . . The country had, for the 18 months before President Mursi was sworn in, been ruled by Egypt’s formidable military. They had a tight grip on power and made sure they continued to do so even after a president was elected. They announced a constitutional declaration just days before the election results. It gave the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (Scaf) legislative and executive powers including the ability to veto any article in the drafting of the country’s constitution. But last August, Mr Mursi took the nation – and the world – by surprise when he cancelled Scaf’s constitutional declaration and transferred full executive and legislative authority from the military council to himself. He also forced the Defence Minister Hussein Tantawi and his second-in-command Sami Enan into retirement. He appointed Gen Abdul Fattah al-Sisi, the former head of military intelligence, and the youngest member of Scaf as defence minister. Mr Mursi then continued his reshuffling of Egypt’s top brass when it was announced that 70 other generals in the Egyptian armed forces were to be retired. This was the president’s first real assertion of power and many argue his biggest achievement to date”.
Another month has now gone by, and now Mursi has performed his most unexpected and shocking manoeuvre, as reported by Reuters: Egypt’s President “has issued a decree that puts his decisions above legal challenge until a new parliament is elected, of being the new Mubarak and hijacking the revolution [on Thursday, 22 November 2012] . . . [this] decision to assume sweeping powers caused fury amongst his opponents and prompted violent clashes in central Cairo and other cities on Friday [, 23 November 2012]. Police fired tear gas near Cairo’s Tahrir Square, heart of the 2011 uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak, where thousands demanded Mursi quit and accused him of launching a “coup”. There were violent protests in Alexandria, Port Said and Suez. Opponents accused Mursi, who has issued a decree that puts his decisions above legal challenge until a new parliament is elected, of being the new Mubarak and hijacking the revolution”.
The BBC’s Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen opines that the “Muslim Brotherhood, of which President Mursi is a leader, is a cautious organisation. The demonstrations might persuade it to dilute its controversial measures. If that doesn’t happen, then the split in Egypt between political Islamists and the rest will grow deeper and more bitter. President Mursi argues that he has taken exceptional powers to deal with Egypt’s enormous problems. But the scenes on the streets of Cairo, and Egypt’s other major cities, show that the medicine could be making the disease worse. The country has had no political or economic stability since President Mubarak fell in February last year. Creating both should be at the top of the agenda for Mr Mursi. Egypt is close to getting a big loan from the International Monetary Fund – but the accusations that he is turning himself into a new Mubarak will worry Western donors”. Being the objective BBC journalist that he is, Bowen ends his analysis on this even-handed note: “Mr Mursi was praised as a pragmatist by the Americans after he negotiated the ceasefire between Israel and Hamas. But Egyptians who didn’t vote for him – almost half the people who turned out in June’s election – believe he has taken the new, sweeping powers to ram through an Islamist agenda”.
 Shaimaa Khalil, “Egypt: President Mursi’s 100 days in power” BBC News (09 October 2012). http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-19882135.
 “Egypt President Mohamed Morsi Seizes New Powers, Called ‘Pharaoh’” Reuters (23 November 2012). http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/23/egypt-mohamed-morsi_n_2176978.html?utm_hp_ref=world.
 Jeremy Bowen, “Analysis” BBC News (23 November 2012). http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-20458148.
 Jeremy Bowen, “Analysis”.