Is Egypt becoming another Algeria?



Abdul Rahman Al-Rashed

Published — Sunday 17 June 2012

Last update 17 June 2012 8:23 pm

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ONE month ago no one would have imagined that the political arena in Egypt would witness serious upheavals as, is the case today. There is no Parliament in Egypt today as it has been deemed illegitimate by the Supreme Constitutional Court. So the elected Parliament in Egypt no longer exists.
Subsequently, there is no constituent assembly to draft the constitution because it has emanated from the Parliament which has been dissolved. The presidential candidate of the Muslim Brotherhood, Muhammad Mursi, is not willing to accept the result of the runoff unless he wins it against Ahmed Shafiq. The next president in Egypt will not have the full powers of a president. There is no assembly to write the constitution. This means we are seeing the Algerian example of 1991 being repeated in Egypt. The military in Algeria organized the parliamentary elections but when they were certain that the victory of the Islamists was imminent, they declared the martial law, canceled the elections and arrested Islamist leaders who believed that they were just a step away from assuming power in the country.
Until today, Algeria has not fully recovered from that awful coup. Are the military officers in Egypt committing the same mistake of their Algerian counterparts?
Why were the parliamentary elections held in Egypt if there was any doubt in its constitutional soundness? Why did the judiciary rule that the elections were unlawful only few days before the presidential elections were held?
These questions insinuate that there is a conspiracy somewhere. If the ruling military council in Egypt wanted to stop the holding of the parliamentary elections, it had many opportunities to do so. There were many incidents which could have provided the council with acceptable justifications to stop the elections. Among others these included the confrontations between its supporters and those against it at Al-Abbasiyah Square in Cairo. The council could have used these confrontations a pretext to announce martial law and postpone the political process. It did not do this and continued business as usual.
Egypt has gone through a number of small crises which the Egyptians were able to overcome. Since the downfall of the former regime and the beginning of a new political process in the country, the Egyptian people were heatedly debating which comes first: The drafting of the constitution, the election of a Parliament or the election of a president. There was also the tragedy of Port Saeed soccer stadium in which many people lost their lives. Then there were the trials of President Hosni Mubarak, his two sons and his interior minister along with a number of his aides. Many confrontations took place in squares, embassies and the ministries of defense and interior.
There were also numerous crises in Egypt including the elimination of the presidential candidate of the Salafists Hazim Salah Abu Ismail from the race on the ground that his mother was a US citizen and a holder of an American passport. Former chief of intelligence Omar Sulaiman and the strong leader of the Muslim Brotherhood Khayrat Al-Shattir were both eliminated from the presidential race. Since all these crises were easily overcome, the legitimate question which now arises is: Why Egypt cannot overcome its predicaments now?
Egypt is passing through difficult and painful phase but it has to go on until the very end. Egypt deserves to have an opportunity to continue regardless of the results of the presidential elections.
The military council has successfully built the two houses of the Parliament. It has also organized the first round of the presidential elections in a manner that was satisfying to the international observers. However, the council would be committing a grave mistake if it dared to cancel the second round of the presidential elections which began on Saturday or canceled the results due to riots and disputes over them without a judicial ruling.
Egypt may face serious consequences because of the untimely judicial intervention. If Ahmed Shafiq (Mubarak’s last prime minister) defeated the candidate of the Muslim Brotherhood Muhammad Mursi, Cairo would turn into a battlefield. The military would then find themselves obliged to continue running the affairs of the country thus thwarting the revolution.
This is the final stretch (in the race). The military should accept the outcome of the political process. The Muslim Brotherhood too has a historic responsibility to steer the country out of this present turmoil if they want to change Egypt for the better.
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