Military to draft new constitution

The ruling military council in Egypt has issued an interim "constitutional declaration" - a move that formally hands the generals legislative powers following the dissolution of the Islamist-dominated parliament.

The brief report on TV said the military council will give details at a news conference tomorrow.

The widely anticipated declaration is expected to lay out the powers of the next president and give the generals the final say on the process of drafting a new constitution for the country.

Leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood, which controls just under half of parliament's seats, has rejected the court's ruling and insist the military does not have the right to issue the interim constitutional declaration or form the assembly to write a permanent one.

The move by the military came after Egyptians voted for a second day in a presidential runoff pitting Hosni Mubarak's last prime minister against a conservative Islamist.

But the prospect that the military will still hold most power even after their nominal handover of authority to civilians by July 1 cast a shadow over the voting.

Under the declaration, the council of generals would be the nation's legislators and control the budget after the Islamist-dominated parliament was dissolved under a court order last week.

The generals will also likely take on parliament's task of appointing a 100-member assembly to write the permanent constitution, giving them enormous influence over the document that will shape Egypt's future and allowing the opportunity to enshrine for themselves a political say.

As a result, for some voters even as they stood in sweltering heat at the polls, it seemed that the choice for Mubarak's successor - between Ahmed Shafiq, a long-time friend and admirer of Mubarak, and Mohammed Morsi, the candidate of the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood - would ultimately make little difference.

The winner in the race will be officially announced on Thursday. But the result could be known by as early as tomorrow, based on results from individual counting stations that Egyptian media and each campaign usually compile and make public.