Saturday, June 23, 2012

Egypt transitions away from democracy

By Sherine Tadros
Al-Masry Al-Youm


Welcome to Egyptistan. Pakistan is the model being replicated in Egypt. Why? Because Uncle Sam prefers it this way (to maintain control) and the Muslim Brothers don't mind as long as they have a tiny share of "power."

"On 1 July, Egypt’s military rulers have promised to “hand over” power in a grand ceremony to be broadcast across the world.

But the real show has been happening over the last 16 months as they have cleverly managed to keep the facade of a “transition process” alive despite their crackdowns, unilateral law-making and ever tightening grip on the country.

Every step along this never-ending transition, Egyptians have felt robbed. They were given the right to choose, only to have that choice exploited, manipulated and, ultimately, ignored......

Enter the Brotherhood

Of course it takes two to mess a transition up this badly. The Muslim Brotherhood’s insistence on pushing for elections to capitalize on pro-revolution fervor and the disorganization of liberal and secular parties took the country full circle, leading to power battle between the Brotherhood and the regime. A struggle is taking place with no set parameters, no permanent constitution, just the rules made up by the unelected military rulers.

Many blame the Brotherhood for their failure to achieve anything substantial in the past few months despite their dominant role in Parliament. But their power to legislate was greatly curbed, and had to always be sanctioned by the junta. A defining moment for the People’s Assembly was when they passed the so called “Political Isolation Law” to ban former senior members of Mubarak’s regime from running for the presidency.

The law was passed only days away from the presidential election’s first round. The law, although ratified by the SCAF, was deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Constitutional Court (on the same day it effectively disbanded Parliament), thus securing the place of presidential candidate Ahmed Shafiq (Mubarak’s last prime minister) in the election runoff.

The Parliament’s other important task was to pick the 100-member Constituent Assembly to draft a new constitution. On 10 April, Cairo’s Administrative Court suspended the assembly because it was dominated by Islamists and was not representative of other groups. The Brotherhood did in fact dominate the assembly — not only through allocating themselves 38 out of the 50 seats reserved for parliamentarians, but also through ensuring those reserved for unions and syndicate representatives were, let’s say, “Brotherhood friendly.”

The result was a mass walk out by seculars, liberals, the Church, Al-Azhar and others. The second attempt at forming a Constituent Assembly is quickly going down the same path, which could lead to the SCAF taking over the entire process of constitution writing. Every time the Brotherhood makes a wrong move, the SCAF is the sole beneficiary.

In the end, the revolution’s greatest asset became the biggest hindrance to its success — lack of leadership. Into the brief power vacuum left behind by Hosni Mubarak, leapt a military elite that quickly proved how easy it is to turn a spontaneous uprising into a coup."

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