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Egyptian lawmakers blast military

CAIRO -- The Islamist-dominated parliament flexed its newly acquired powers yesterday, accusing Egypt's military rulers of overstepping their powers by imposing a new presidential election law before the legislators were even seated.

The law, which lays out rules for the vote expected later this year, and other military decrees are shaping up as a litmus test of the relationship between the new lawmakers and the generals who took power after former President Hosni Mubarak stepped down nearly a year ago.

Protesters clashed, meanwhile, with Muslim Brotherhood supporters who formed a human shield outside the parliament in front of barbed wires and barricades set up by security forces. Youth activists in the massive protests that led to Mubarak's ouster have accused the Islamists of ignoring their demands and siding with the military.

The fundamentalist Brotherhood, which controls nearly half of the seats in the 508-member legislature, has won control of 11 out of the 19 specialized parliamentary committees, including the key defense and national security committee that is likely to be in charge of reviewing the military's budget.

Protesters outside the parliamentary building in downtown Cairo chanted, "You sold the revolution," while others heckled Brotherhood supporters leaving the area. Dr. Mohammed Sultan, head of the Egyptian ambulance service, said 71 people were injured, most from thrown rocks, and 30 were hospitalized.

Leftist and secular activists fear the Brotherhood might ally with the military to ensure its influence over the drafting of a constitution -- a task the parliament will oversee. -- AP

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