The struggle of Egyptians to elect the key ruling institutions and to produce a new constitution following the revolution in January 2011 is being challenged once again.
On June 16 Egyptians will head back to the polling stations to finally elect their new president. The scene could have been one of rejoicing at reaching the final stages of their brilliant revolution. Instead, confusion, mistrust, polarization and serious legal pitfalls have defined the process so far. As Egyptians held their breath in suspense, awaiting the ruling of the supreme constitutional court over two basic and severely consequential issues (a mere two days before electing their new president), the close-to-perfect advertisements promoting the two runners up continued to play on as if nothing could change the course of events.
Thursday’s ruling has opened the door for many changes and is certain to have a severe impact on the intensity of the competition for the office of president, but more importantly on how the revolution will regroup and continue. One decision did indeed bring relief for many of the supporters of presidential candidate Mr. Ahmed Shafik, by decreeing that a law passed by Parliament to isolate members of the top leadership who served under the previous regime unconstitutional. Shafik had briefly been prime minister during the first weeks of the revolution, and he was quick to declare the court’s decision “historic.” The ruling, however, goes against the hopes and dreams of the revolution to do away with the old regime. But many secular Egyptians, who fear the rising power of the Muslim Brotherhood, are relieved by the second ruling. Ironically enough, a second ruling of the court pulled the carpet from under their feet, when it ruled that a quarter of the elected Parliament -- where they hold more seats -- was unconstitutional.
Consequently, it would seem that the whole elected body has been invalidated. So far, most have accepted the ruling, but more reactions to these changes should be expected after the presidential elections.
Meanwhile, it is still unclear, how the road map of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), in charge of the transitional period since the revolution, will continue. More importantly, the invalidated elected Parliament has been busy attempting, for the second time, to elect the committee of 100 individuals who will write Egypt’s new constitution, amid severe criticism and legal contentions. Future developments in the process will depend much on how the SCAF will manage the consequences of the second ruling, especially regarding the creation of the constitution.
Egypt, the land of resilient Egyptians, continues to be in the lime light. Egyptians will elect a president, the first after the revolution, amidst heightened security arrangements. To many, it seems like Egypt is back to square one. The reality, however is there is no going back, the learning process of the last 15 months has provided real experience to the up-and-coming politicians, and gives a hard lesson as to the attempts of political Islam to overpower all. For a revolution that erupted to demand freedom from the tyranny of those in power, the situation is increasingly challenging.