Julie Webb-Pullman reports


06 December 2012

The world was sympathetic when Egyptians took to the streets in January 2011 demanding the fall of Hosni Mubarak’s dictatorship, and its replacement with democracy, and a new constitution.

We supported them as they stayed there until Mubarak was gone.

We mourned their dead, and sympathised with the wounded who fell in the so-called ‘revolution.’

We continued to support them through the following year-and-a-bit until they held open, free and fair elections, and democratically elected a new President.

Egyptians said they wanted democracy, and we supported them in their struggle for it, and for its machinery – elections, majority rule, governance by the elected representatives, a new constitution.

Why, then, do the ‘losers’ of the elections refuse to accept or live with its results?

Why then, are they trying to impose the views of this minority on the constituent assembly, the government, and the country itself?

Why, then, are THEY trying to govern from the streets, with violence, destruction of private property, blocking public passage, instead of leaving it to the legitimately-elected representative government to do, within its legitimate powers?

Why, then, do they refuse to behave democratically, and vote in the referendum on the proposed constitution?

This time, the cries from the barricades do not ring true in the ears of the world. And its people are fast losing both patience – and sympathy – with the Egyptian ‘opposition.’

One of the protesters’ complaints is that the judiciary has had its powers to kick out the President curtailed.

In precisely which country does the judiciary have the power to do this? The US? Certainly not – it can impeach the President, but the Senate – not the judiciary – must then hold a trial, and only following a conviction can the President be ousted.

In most other democratic countries the judiciary cannot remove the President or Prime Minister – they can only be removed by:
a) the people, in elections,
b) a vote of no confidence in the parliament, or
c) loss of mandate within their own political party.

If the Egyptian ‘opposition’ is genuine in its desire for democracy, then it will do as numerous countries have done to Prime Ministers and Presidents they no longer want – vote them out in the next elections, or hold a no-confidence vote.

The latter move has ousted leaders in the following 46 countries:
Prime Ministers: Australia, Canada, Cook Islands, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Haiti, Hungary, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kosovo, Lithuania, Malta, Moldova, Mongolia, Nepal, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Niger, Norway, Papua New Guinea, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, Somalia, Sweden, Turkey, Tuvalu, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Turks and Caicos Islands, Vanuatu, Yugoslavia
Presidents: French Polynesia, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, United States of America.

Of course, that relies on the Egyptian ‘opposition’ actually being committed to democracy…

Many commentators have criticised President Morsi for (legitimately) extending his powers to pre-empt yet another (illegitimate) assault on the aims of the revolution by corrupt remnants of the Mubarak regime. Others have compared Morsi with Mubarak.

Both – whether deliberately or otherwise – fail to acknowledge, or appreciate the implications of, the context in which Morsi extended his powers.

Elements of the former regime, particularly the Judicial Council, have been consistently trying to get rid of the Morsi government. As Thomas R. Eddlem wrote in The New American, “The parliament had been elected in January 2012, but was dissolved by the military after the June Supreme Judicial Council decision claiming the elections were invalid. The November 7 decree followed similar rulings by the same court in July and September upholding the dissolution of the parliamentary Assembly.”

Was extending his powers a power-grab by Morsi, or the pre-empting of yet another one by others, aided and abetted by remnants of the old regime?

The comparisons with Mubarak also do not bear up under scrutiny – Mubarak abused his powers for some 30 years, accompanied by blatant repression, particularly of political opponents. Morsi, by contrast, has not abused any of his powers, either old or new.

In fact, he has sought dialogue and co-operation with the ‘opposition’ and unlike Mubarak, he has not used violence and repression against protesters – unfortunately, they seem to be doing that to themselves without any help from state forces.

This month Egyptians must decide on more than just a new constitution – they must also decide whether they want mob rule from the streets, which is what demands for Morsi’s departure amount to.

At the risk of repeating myself, if Egyptians genuinely want democracy, they should accept its outcomes, and work with the government elected by the majority for the good of all Egyptians.

Failure to do so risks forgoing international support from anyone other than those with an agenda to destabilise this fledgling democracy, and crush the people of Egypt – and beyond.



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