Growing power struggle over the judiciary
The latest calls for demonstrations in Egypt cast a grave shadow of doubt as to who really holds the power to rule the country. The Muslim Brotherhood has been regarded as the supporting backbone to the rise of political Islam to the seats of power in Egypt. So much so that it is taken for granted that the president, once a high-ranking member, receives many of his directives from them. The triangle relationship between the Brotherhood, their political arm – the Freedom and Justice Party – and President-elect Mohamed Morsi was expected to provide a more effective management of the confused and deteriorating situation in Egypt.
It is indicative that the Muslim Brotherhood called for demonstrations Friday against a court ruling to release deposed President Hosni Mubarak. Interestingly, neither the opposition, nor rival political Islam parties or any of the pro-revolution movements joined these calls. Meanwhile, following his last appearance in court Mubarak has been again moved back to prison from his hospital suite to await yet another retrial. Looking rested and sitting up, he greeted his supporters with multiple hand waves, as the court resigned the case. His gestures spurned off much speculation on why he seemed more confident.
Attempts to tarnish the judiciary have been plenty since the revolution. With repeated calls for the rule of law and order, a strong independent judiciary is critical. Not as independent as it should be, within the judiciary it is unclear where the balance of power lies. Opposition groups have been known to demonstrate outside courthouses to demand justice and the release of political detainees. Groups representing political Islam have attempted to mobilize against the judiciary before. The siege of the constitutional court last year was the most notorious. Yet, a call by the Brotherhood seems to indicate nothing less than an outright challenge of one of the basic pillars of governance. Considering that Egypt is operating under a makeshift non-representative and temporary legislative body also under the wing of political Islam, the growing power struggle over the judiciary would seem to be the last bastion for the Brotherhood to conquer.
Egypt’s political opposition has been quick to condemn such attempts. They have made their participation in parliamentary elections contingent on strong assurances of a fair, supervised and well-monitored process. Needless to say, it is the judiciary that, if impartial and independent, can assume much of this role and ensure a democratic election of the legislative body. These obvious attempts to gain more control of the system, in addition to an unclear picture of where the checks and balances in the system lie, can only serve to cast doubt that the power struggle is in full force. The tug for complete rule of Egypt continues to thwart energies from the real challenges of food, freedom and justice. Hopes for a better future must persist against this trending polarization.