Julie Webb-Pullman reports

Posts tagged “President Morsi

Time for the Egyptian ‘opposition’ to observe democratic norms

07 December 2012

It is not the Morsi government that has lost legitimacy, but the manifestly mis-named National Salvation Front.

In a genuine democracy, the opposition accepts that the government is elected to rule and that the opposition’s role is constructive criticism and keeping alternative policies in view – through the parliamentary process.

An opposition that spurns the parliamentray process, that spurns dialogue, and that sinks to vicious street thuggery in order to achieve its ends does not deserve the support or respect of the Egyptian people, or of the international community.

The torching of Muslim Brotherhood headquarters in Cairo and several other regional centres, attacks on the Presidential Palace and on Morsi’s home, and the murder of six Morsi supporters by ‘opposition’ protesters are hardly the hallmarks of democracy, or of a legitimate opposition, in action.

Rather, they are the hallmarks of a brutal, illegitimate and concerted destabilisation attempt – and it is no coincidence that it comes hot on the heels of the Egyptian-brokered Isarel-Gaza ceasefire agreement.

The roles of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mohamed ElBaradei and co-conspirator Amr Moussa, ex-leader of the Arab League, in these shameful proceedings is nothing short of scandalous. Both should know better.

If ever two people disqualified themselves from serious consideration for leadership roles in a democratic state by their own blatantly undemocratic behaviour, surely these two must top the list by their actions over the past week.

Mahmoud Hussein, Secretary-General of the Muslim Brotherhood, was generous in describing opposition protesters’ behaviour as “crude and contemptible ways of expression, rather than (putting) their points across in a civilized manner” – many would call it outright barbarity.

If there is to be any ‘national salvation’ in Egypt, it must begin with dialogue, not with street thuggery masquerading as legitimate dissent.

And if creating a genuine democracy in Egypt is the aim of the opposition, and of the Egyptian people, the first steps should be taken in the houses of parliament, not in the streets.

Isn’t that what 846 Egyptians died for in 2011?


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.


Is Morsi next in the line of fire?

23 November 2012

Given his role in the Gaza-Israeli ceasefire, it was only a matter of time before Egypt’s President Morsi found himself in the sights.

Few expected it to be quite so fast.

Protests across Egypt are underway, both in support of, and against Morsi’s ‘surprise Constitutional Declaration’ on Thursday.

The inability of those screaming for democracy to actually accept its results is staggering. One of their major complaints was that the Constituent Assembly formed to draft the new Constitution was ‘unrepresentative’ – and despite a new agreement on its composition being reached in June 2012, non-Islamists continue to complain.

The Egyptain election results were clear – the Islamists won power, by a clear majority. Non-Islamists, especially those espousing democracy, should have no trouble in accepting this outcome, ie that they are in a minority, and are subject the decisions of the majority.

Most have withdrawn from the Constituent Assembly – but even then, they only constitute 25%, leaving a weighty 75% still in there. Which bit of ‘majority’ do they not understand?

That is what democracy is. That is what they have been, and continue, screaming for at the barricades.

The outcome of the Constituent Assembly, the proposed new Constitution, will go to referendum, and the people will get to vote for – or against – it. What is ‘undemocratic’ about this?

And the Constitutional Declaration – why should it concern them, for instance, that the Constituent Assembly and Shura Council (upper house of parliament) will be immune to dissolution by a judicial body? These bodies were elected by, or on behalf of, the people, not appointed by the judiciary, and in a real democracy, they should be dissolved by the people, not by any other authority, judicial or otherwise.

Does the US judiciary have the power to dissolve the Senate? Does the British judiciary have the power to dissolve the House of Lords? Why should the Egyptian judiciary have such powers?

Who appoints the Attorney General in Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Canada? The Prime Minister! Who appoints the Attorney General in the United States? The President! Is this the type of ‘separation of powers’ they are calling for in Egypt?

The purpose of the Declaration is to speed up the transition to a new Constitution, and a newly-elected Parliament under the new Constitution – something the ‘revolutionaries’ all desired, but also something some in the current judiciary have been doing their best to prevent.

Morsi’s move has been praised by the spokesperson for the ‘Coalition of Judges for Egypt’, Justice Walid Sharabi, who particularly praised the dismissal of the Public Prosecutor, saying “Abdel-Meguid Mahmoud, the Public Prosecutor, has long defended the toppled regime, sought to corrupt the judiciary and to create a justice system rotten to the core.”

So is this latest round just a front for the massive destabilisation attempt we have been expecting since Morsi’s election, and more especially, since the ceasefire between Israel and Gaza brokered by Egypt this week?

As leading Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) member Essam El-Erian said in Al Ahram Online today when condemning reported attacks on FJP offices in several governates, “They are acts of thuggery hiding behind [opposition] political forces.”

With its role as mediator and guarantor of the ceasefire agreement, and Israel’s killing of at least one Palestinian and the injuring of nine more in a clear breach of the agreement before the ink has even dried, Egypt’s position is both pivotal, and vulnerable to destabilisation by those with the most to gain from distracting Egypt at best, and bringing down the Morsi regime at worst.

No prizes for guessing the identity of who is paying these ‘pipers’ of dissent in Egypt, and whose fingers will be as sticky with Egyptian blood as they already are with the blood of Palestinians, Iraqis, Syrians, Lebanese, Libyans and Iranians, if they are allowed to prevail.