Monday, November 21, 2011

Egypt's revolution urgently needs leadership

Egyptians feel let down by the army, yet many feel now isn't the time for elections. Let's see a national unity government

for the Arabist, part of the Guardian Comment Network, Monday 21 November 2011

"....Can there be a political solution out of this crisis? And what do the protestors want, anyway? For some, it's about securing a deadline for the transition to a civilian government and president by April 2012. Others want this transition now. It's hard to overstate the extent to which the SCAF has squandered the trust that many Egyptians expressed in the army last February. Many want it to be out of power as soon as possible. Elections are not figuring high in the protestors' demands, and indeed in places some were tearing posters from the walls saying that now is not the time for partisan politics.

As I've written several times (see this recent piece in The National the only productive way to postpone these very badly prepared elections is if a national unity government that effectively takes over from the SCAF is directing the transition. Something similar has recently been proposed by some political actors, and could be adapted to the new situation.

The biggest obstacle to this right now – aside from the SCAF, which probably can't imagine making such a concession and still backing elections in a weekis the Muslim Brotherhood, whose Freedom and Justice Party opposes any postponement of elections they stand to do well in. Liberals may have suspended their campaign, but the Brothers (and others) sure aren't going to. For them to agree to postpone the elections at this point would necessitate an escalation in the crisis and a real breakthrough for the idea of a civilian transitional council. It may yet come if this violence continues....."

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