26 June 2012

Egypt: cCheckmated Democratic Process


Election officials in Egypt on Wednesday June 20, 2012 announced that they were postponing the announcement of the country's presidential runoff results. The commission said it needed more time to look into 400 petitions lodged by Mohamed Mursi of the Moslem Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party and former Air force Chief and Prime Minister, Ahmed Shafiq who ran as an independent.

However, the Supreme Presidential Elections Commission (SPEC) finally released the results yesterday June 24, 2012, declaring Mohamed Mursi winner with 51.73 per cent of votes as against Ahmed Shafiq's 48.27 per cent. Prior to yesterday's announcement, the US Council on Foreign Relations said last week's move by SPEC plunged the country into further uncertainty.

Earlier on the evening of June 17 - the second and final day of voting in the election - the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, SCAF, announced that it had granted itself sweeping political and legislative powers following a court ruling on June 2, dissolving Parliament dominated by members of the Moslem Brotherhood.

The unexpected delay intensified tensions between the Moslem Brotherhood and SCAF that also reimposed martial law in the Sunday June 17 announcement. In all, the decisions severely limit the new President's power, seizing significant control over the writing of a new constitution. Adding to the pervading uncertainty were conflicting news reports early last week of former President Hosni Mubarak's health.

Following claims that he was clinically dead after suffering a series of strokes in a prison hospital before being moved to a military hospital in the capital, Cairo, Abdel Razeq, a lawyer for Mubarak, denied the reports saying instead that the former president had a blood clot. Abdel characterised the reports of Mubarak's death as media mania and fictional.

Following the postponement in the announcement of results, the Muslim Brotherhood and its political arm, the Freedom and Justice Party, warned against any attempts to falsify the will of the people, saying SCAF would have to face the public. A military source who spoke to Ahram Online on condition of anonymity said the military council was determined not to allow the Moslem Brotherhood to take power. He vowed that it will not relinquish the reins of power until a new constitution was issued and the arena is set for a balanced political process.

In the face of the ongoing stalemate, the Moslem Brotherhood's deputy leader, Khairat El Shater told French newspaper, Le Figaro on Thursday June 22, 2012 that the country was facing a wave of repression and his group was ready to fight it. He however stressed that they will not resort to violence but use peaceful public pressure, legal challenges as well as depend on international support to fight repression by elements of the old regime.

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