Fourteen months after the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak, a new Egypt is still a work in progress -- or possibly regress.
The opposition that swelled Cairo's Tahrir Square has fractured into Islamist and secular factions. The Islamist-dominated parliament continues to compete for influence with the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces. And last week a presidential election scheduled for May was thrown into confusion. First an administrative court suspended the work of a 100-member assembly charged with writing a new constitution, raising the possibility that a president will be elected before the nature of the new Egyptian state is defined. Then on Saturday an election commission disqualified 10 presidential candidates, including the three front-runners: Omar Suleiman, Mubarak's intelligence chief; Khairat Shater, the candidate of the Muslim Brotherhood; and Hazem Salah abu Ismail, an ultraconservative Islamist. They were given two days to appeal the decisions.
Out of this confusion a stable, democratic and pluralist Egypt might still emerge, but much will depend on the behavior of the military council and the Brotherhood. The military must resist the temptation to abort or delay the election because of recent legal complications, but the Brotherhood and other Islamists shouldn't give the council an excuse for such interference.