Egypt: Sad End To A Glorious Revolution
The result of the run off of the Presidential election which was expected to be announced on Thursday was delayed with the Elections Commission announcing that it needed more time to look into 400 complaints on the election made by both candidates: Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate Mohammed Mursi and former Prime Minister to ousted President Hosni Mubarak who was also the former Air Force Chief.
Thousands of protesting supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood were gathering at Cairo’s Tahir Square, the birthplace of the Arab Spring of Egypt to protest against the delay in the announcement of the results as well as the sweeping powers acquired by Egypt’s Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCARF) commencing last week. This week it announced constitutional amendments which gave SCARF sweeping legislative powers.
Reports said that most Egyptians were fearing that a constitutional coup was being staged by SCARF which had been ruling Egypt since the ouster of President Mubarak.
Two days before the run up for the presidential election, the country’s highest court, the constitutional court, dissolved Egypt’s lower house of parliament and overruled a decision made by parliament that former top officials of the Mubarak regime were not eligible to contest the presidential election. This enabled Ahmed Shafiq, former Air Force commander and Prime Minister under President Mubarak to run for the Presidential election.
In the first round of the presidential election Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood came first polling 25.3 per cent of the vote while Ahmed Shafiq was second with 24.9 per cent. In the run up of the elections the number of candidates was narrowed down and Morsi and Shafiq are the front runners.
A Constitutional Coup
The dissolution of parliament by the constitutional court comprising mostly of judges appointed by former President Hosni Mubarak and an earlier decree issued by the Justice Ministry granting the right to the military police and intelligence services to arrest and detain civilians resulted in the outraged Muslim Brotherhood and even liberals and socialists crying out that a constitutional coup had been staged.
These events have further destabilised Egypt which has been in turmoil since the Arab Spring staged in Cairo’s Tahrir Square that resulted in the overthrow of Mubarak who had ruled the country with an iron fist for over three decades.
Meanwhile Hosni Mubarak who was jailed for the decisions he made in crushing the protestors of the Arab Spring has been taken out of jail and removed to an army hospital where his condition is reported to be critical.
Parliamentary elections void
The dissolution of parliament on the grounds that the parliamentary elections were held contrary to some constitutional provisions and making room for Ahmed Shafiq to come in was a double blow to the Muslim Brotherhood and more conservative Muslim legislators.
If the second round of voting goes through as scheduled the new president will be facing the prospect of having no parliament or even a constitution, a new constitution being in the process of being drafted.
Observers are reported saying that events in the last two weeks indicate that the military has no intention of loosening its grip on the country. The military council retains powers to govern the country even after the so called Egyptian Revolution.
Where have all the youth gone?
It is indeed a sad end to Egypt’s Arab Spring with the amazing sight of young men and even women – tens of thousands of them with their head scarves on – chanting in unison for Mubarak to get out. They did succeed in ousting the military dictator by their numbers and voice power without any ammunition but ousting a military dictatorship in an Arab country is not as simple as that.
To outsiders who watched Tahrir Square during the heady days of the Arab Spring it was the case of spirited young men and women whose previous generations had suffered under the jackboot of military dictatorship finally rising against the oppressors. But Egypt’s military, it had been pointed out, has a close and endearing relationship with most of the populace. It was the military that overthrew the monarchy of King Farouk and established a republic.
Gamel Abdel Nasser became not only the legendary hero of Egyptians but the entire Arab world.
The Republic of Egypt has always been ruled by military leaders. Most observers who expected the Arab Spring to succeed had grossly underestimated the relationship between the military and the people.
The military may oppress the people but it is also viewed as a nationalistic force that protects the people from external threats such as the Israelis. In Arab countries the military presidents for life, like Gaddafy and Mubarak may become odious but the people on the whole do not regard the military with contempt. In Egypt the military could be a countervailing force to Islamic extremism.
To the young men and women of the Arab Spring who wanted democracy the outcome of the election between Ahmed Shafiq and Mohamed Morsi will be of no consequence.
They have to choose between a representative of the Old Guard that repressed their people for long years and a representative of the Muslim Brotherhood whom they fear will attempt to impose harsh Islamic laws including the Sharia law that imposes strict restrictions on women – Hobson’s Choice. In the parliamentary elections they won almost 40 per cent of the seats while more conservative Islamic members too held many seats.
The socialists held only a limited number of seats. However the Muslim Brotherhood which had been banned for long years in Egypt has pledged to be more democratic in their approach. Minorities such as the Christian Copts would prefer a military representative than one from the Brotherhood some of whom do not want to tolerate the Copts.
Whether the Islamic hardliners would tolerate an anticipated a military crackdown if Shafiq wins and how the military would react if Morsi is the winner can be seen in the coming weeks. But for those who wanted democracy and a liberal Egypt it’s a sad end to a glorious revolution.