Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Egypt: From 'Election first' to 'SCAF first'

The military's latest decree will either crush dissent - or empower activists to retake the streets.

Larbi Sadiki

"The Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF) may have just shot itself in the foot.
While Egypt and Egyptians have been engaging in one exercise to reclaim popular sovereignty , won on the back of a glorious revolution, SCAF has, seemingly, been scheming a different game: to stem the tide of revolution and fledgling democratisation, and usurp public office. This chapter of the Egyptian revolution will require close historical scrutiny.

In three days, SCAF has committed two massive blunders: on June 14, a judicial coup (the dissolution of the Lower House based on the unconstitutionality of the Elections Law and the Isolation Law, qanun al-'azl), aggravated by a constitutional coup (issuing non-democratic amendments to the interim constitution). The Field Marshal and company may turn out to be out of their depth for misusing law to uphold illegal practices.

In principle, by issuing the interim constitution, SCAF has suspended both Egypt's revolution and more than one year of popular voting in referendum, bicameral parliamentary elections and this weekend's presidential elections. Even the ousted president never exercised "dropping the writ" with such disregard for popular will.....

Three assets have been gained from Egypt's revolution, and they could prove fatal to SCAF.

First, Egypt now has leaders of all political colours. SCAF may have ignored this detail. What is certain is that, in the days to come (and it may not take as long as 18 days), SCAF will not be left alone ot go about its business.

Second, the fear that was psychologically conditioned by the apparatus of the pre-revolution state, coercive and otherwise, has for ever dissipated like the Egyptian winter morning fog on the streets and squares of resistance. That resistance, when weariness transpires, could come back to haunt SCAF's cavalier attitude, and animate Egypt's squares once more.

Last, the integration of Islamists in the political process is now unstoppable, and with all its imperfections, it provides a formidable pole and a bulwark against the deep state.

Today, they may be giving Egypt the taste of their first democratically elected president.

Tomorrow, who knows? An Egypt for all its people - Copt and Muslim, secular and Islamist and man and woman - in which SCAF is a mere footnote in the interval between dictatorship and good government. "

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