Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The Egyptian Military kills Egyptian Democracy

This article is the latest in a series describing the political developments in Egypt following the fall of Mubarak. I first discussed Egypt in a factcheck of several statements made by Sean Hannity and his guests. The next three articles on Egypt were exclusively about Egypt.

In April the Egyptian election commission banned 10 candidates from running in the presidential election. Among the candidates banned were Oman Suleiman, a former spy chief under Mubarak, Khairat al-Shater of the Muslim Brotherhood, and the Salafist candidate Hazem Abu Ismail.

On May 23 and 24 Egypt held the first round of voting in their Presidential election. 13 candidates were on the ballot. Mohamed Morsi and Ahmed Shafik won the top two spots in that round of voting and progressed to a run-off election. Mohamed Morsi is a Muslim Brotherhood candidate. Ahmed Shafik was the final prime minister under the Mubarak regime and was a favorite of the Egyptian military. The candidates that received the most votes from the activists originally behind the rallies that over threw Mubarak finished 3rd and 4th in the first round of voting. Many of these activists called on voters to either boycott the runoff election or spoil their vote. 

On June 15, the Egyptian Supreme Court dissolved the Egyptian Parliament. Soon afterward the Egyptian Military declared that it had full legislative authority. The military also announced that it will appoint all of the members of the assembly that will write the new Egyptian Constitution. The military also stripped the presidency of most of its powers.

The Egyptian Presidential run-off election was held on June 16 and 17. On June 24, Mohamed Morsi was declared the winner. He is Egypt’s first democratically elected President. 

So what does all of this mean for Egypt’s transition to democracy? The Military that promised a transfer to civilian government by July has now seized all legislative and most executive authority in Egypt. It has also decided to hand pick all of the people who will write Egypt’s new constitution, ensuring that it will maintain all of the powers that it desires to keep for itself. No democratically elected government will have actual power in Egypt for the foreseeable future. The military will be able to make the real decisions behind the veil, even when Egypt does have a democratically elected president and parliament in place. Egypt’s transition to democracy has failed. 
The situation in Bahrain is just as dim. Human Rights defender Abdulhadi Alkhawaja remains in prison even after he was promised in April that he would receive a retrial of his case in a civilian court. He has been in prison for 14 months. The Bahraini government continues to use excessive force against protestors. If the pro-democracy demonstrations ever become large enough to threaten the government, the government can always count on the Saudi military to disperse the protestors as it did in March 2011. It appears that Bahrain’s pro-democracy movement has failed as well.

POSTSCRIPT: When I first wrote about Egypt during my factcheck of Hannity back in February 2011, I predicted that the Muslim Brotherhood wouldn't come to power in Egypt following free elections. The Brotherhood won the largest share of seats in Parliament (before it was dissolved of course) and their candidate has now won the Presidency. It’s safe to say that my prediction turned out to be wildly inaccurate.      

UPDATE (8/15/2012):

        “Egypt’s transition to democracy has failed.”

I should really stop making predictions. On August 12 President Morsi successfully fired Defense Minister Tantawi, the army chief of staff, and other senior generals. He also nullified the military decree that gave the military most of Egypt’s executive power. The country is still without a parliament or a written constitution. The political crucible that is post-Mubarak Egypt is still very much in flux. Transition to civilian rule once again appears possible.  

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