Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Egypt Races Towards Elections. Should They Put On The Breaks?

Ten days to a new constitution. Six months until elections are held. And pledges from the Muslim Brotherhood that they will not field a presidential candidate.

Egypt's military is moving at breakneck speed to meet the demands of the people for a new democracy. But is it too fast? And is the Muslim Brotherhood's reticence to have a presidential candidate to alleviate fears or a shrewd political move? From The Washington Post:

Some democracy advocates, however, have questioned whether Egypt is moving too fast in implementing the demands of the protesters, noting that it first needs to set up credible political parties, voting laws and other basic campaign rules.

In announcing the transition plan, Egypt's Supreme Military Council opened the door to political participation by the Muslim Brotherhood, a fundamentalist movement that has long stirred unease in Washington because of its religious ideology.

The generals appointed a Brotherhood member to a panel of legal experts charged with rewriting the constitution. Meanwhile, the once-banned movement said it would form a political party for the first time to compete in legislative elections.

Mubarak regarded the Brotherhood as an enemy of the state and prohibited it from organizing a formal political wing during his nearly 30 years in power.

Although Egypt's military leadership has long treated the Brotherhood warily and considered it a threat to the secular establishment, the generals have indicated that they are coming to terms with the idea of the movement becoming active in politics.

The Brotherhood says it is committed to nonviolence and democratic principles, but many critics contend that the group's real intention is to work gradually to establish a government based on religious law. Officially, the U.S. government has long shunned the Brotherhood for that reason, although American officials have engaged in back-channel talks with Egyptian members of the movement over the years.

Cognizant of doubts about its intentions, the Brotherhood has pledged not to field a candidate in Egypt's next presidential election, saying it does not want to give the impression that it is seeking control of the country.

It is not clear precisely when that election will be held. The Supreme Military Council's statement Tuesday said it intends to hand over power within six months "to a civilian authority and a president elected in a peaceful and free manner that expresses the views of the people." The council, which is governing Egypt under martial law, did not specify a calendar for the elections.

Still, the Tuesday announcement marks the most specific indication yet of the military's intentions. Previously, the generals had said that they wanted to step aside in six months but had held out the possibility of ruling until elections could be staged at an indefinite date in the future.

Read the whole article here.

1 comment:

Radu Gherman said...

Momentum. That's what the people of Egypt have now, and that's what is going to guarantee that real change is accomplished.
I look back at the revolution in Romania, and the effect of timid steps after such monumental change. It took nearly a decade to bleed out the communists that slithered back into the new government.
The point is that the momentum and the appetite for change that are being felt in Egypt right now are going to help steel the people against the creeping feeling of insecurity that comes from not having someone in charge. It's far worse to draw things out, to allow astute political players that made up the Mubarak regime to re-institute themselves in positions of power, or to allow any number of organized groups take hold of the government.
Anything that happens now must have the blessing of the Egyptian crowds; anything that comes later will be greased by the rising fear of uncertainty.
And if he outcome is not what we would hope, so be it. It'd time the word "we" disappeared from the Egypt debate. It's their fight, and it's their freedom. Let them decide.