Egypt’s new military rulers have said that they will control the country for the next six months or until parliamentary and presidential elections are held.

In a statement issued on 13 February, the Higher Military Council said that it has suspended the constitution and will “temporarily take charge of the country for six months, or until the presidential and parliamentary elections. It is also dissolving both houses of parliament”.

A new constitution is being drafted.

The head of the Higher Military Council will represent Egypt abroad. Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq will continue in office in a caretaker capacity until the formation of a new government along with a handful of other ministers from the old regime.

President Hosni Mubarak stepped down from office on 11 February following 18 days of popular protests. The move ended his 30-year rule.

Since Mubarak’s resignation, thousands of people have left Tahrir Square, a focal point of the protests. However, groups of protesters remain in the centre of Cairo and several ministries have seen groups of demonstrators outside their offices.

The military is keen to return the country to normal, but banks remained closed on 14 February amid strikes. There will be a public holiday on 15 February. There are reports that the military intends to impose a ban on labour union meetings and professional organisations, which would effectively ban strike action.