But at the news conference, Assar tried to assure Egyptians that the generals would manage the transition to democracy. “Let’s look ahead and not back. We all want what’s best for our country,” he said.
Some analysts said that, in exerting their authority, the generals might be gambling that Egyptians have been exhausted by 16 months of a tumultuous transition and will be unwilling to protest against them.
“This is about them approaching the end of the transition and worrying about their privileges and their power,” said Marc Lynch, a professor at George Washington University. “The fact that it is Islamists coming to power makes it easier to sell to the Egyptian public and to the West.”
Robert Springborg, an expert on the Egyptian military at the Naval Postgraduate School in California, said no one should have expected the generals to be subservient to a strong, elected civilian government. “The end goal has always been the same,” he said.
Despite the Brotherhood’s defiant tone toward the constitutional decree, Morsi was upbeat when he held an early-morning news conference declaring victory.
Morsi said he sought “stability, love and brotherhood for the Egyptian civil, national, democratic, constitutional and modern state” and made no mention of Islamic law.
Just after dawn Monday, Morsi supporters trickled into Cairo’s Tahrir Square to celebrate the conservative Islamist’s purported victory. Brotherhood’s predictions of election results have proven accurate in the past, and Morsi was ahead in the polls with 51.6 percent of the vote, according to preliminary results reported on the state-run al-Ahram Web site.
A statement from Shafiq’s campaign criticized the Brotherhood’s touting of unofficial results. Aides to Shafiq said their candidate was ahead by 250,000 votes late Monday, according to the state’s Middle East News Agency.
Staff writer Karen DeYoung in Washington contributed to this report.