Political twists and turns keep Egyptians on their toes
There is never a dull moment in Egypt these days, as the countdown for the anticipated handover from military to civilian rule continues. The process has been anything but smooth; long and winding, it has exhausted millions of observing citizens.
In a continuous series of twists and turns, the presidential election is reaching some kind of out-of-tune crescendo, which calls into question the legitimacy and integrity of the process. Many have come to realize the three pivotal ruling institutions are being reproduced, and in reverse order, too. With an elected Parliament that ushered in a majority of representatives of political Islam, together with a handful of newly organized secular and liberal parties, the political reorganization of the nation seems to be severely challenged, as the struggle for political power and balance unfolds.
Contrary to all their previous public assertions, the Muslim Brotherhood and their Freedom and Justice Party have announced their very own candidate for president. The move attracted much response, especially since it coincided with the expected fall of a popular leading Islamist candidate out of the race for president.
The move has angered many of their own followers and sounded an alarm, as is to be expected, among the more secular. The Brotherhood and their party are coming under severe attack, and are accused of misleading the public and not being trustworthy. Some consider this move to be a clear indication of their true modus operandi, and the beginning of political maneuvering to monopolize all the ruling institutions in the country. More secular voices are calling for a consolidation of candidates in a presidential team to counter the move. Last minute surprises are still expected before the deadline for application April 11.
In a parallel development, objections to the formation of the 100-person elected constitutional committee have been escalating. In supporting the objections, the Al-Azhar Mosque and the Orthodox Church, Egypt’s two main religious institutions, have also dropped out of the committee. Negotiations to bring back the more than one quarter of the members who have left have so far faltered. A deadlock seems to be looming against a handful of court cases challenging the legitimacy of the committee. Rulings are expected next week.
Meanwhile the street is bubbling with demonstrations; the biggest so far have been those of the football clubs’ “ultras,” following a 10-day sit-in in front of Parliament. They marched in many main cities around the country demanding justice for those who died in the football massacre at Port Said that left 74 dead. Other demonstrations by different professional groups are springing up around the country. If anything, the process so far leaves much unanswered. Across the board, the majority of the population is gradually losing faith in the institutional political process, opening the way for more public demonstrations. As some would claim, “It is time for a second revolution.”