In the shadow of a dramatic court ruling, Egypt nears its moment of electoral truth (TIMES OF ISRAEL) By ELHANAN MILLER 06/15/12)
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Large segments of society will never accept the outcome of this
weekend’s inevitably divisive presidential vote
The ruling of Egypt’s constitutional court on Thursday was a game
changer. Far from being a mere implementation of law, the decision —
and reactions to it — shattered the illusion that Egypt’s deeply
fragmented political scene can unite around the results of runoff
presidential elections scheduled for Saturday and Sunday.
For the Muslim Brotherhood, Thursday’s ruling amounted to a counter-
revolution. The movement sustained a double-blow from the
constitutional court: In the first part of its ruling, the court
dissolved the Brotherhood-dominated parliament on the grounds that a
third of its seats were won illegally. In the second part, it allowed
the Brotherhood’s rival candidate Ahmed Shafiq to remain in the
weekend’s presidential race despite recent legislation that sought to
disqualify him as an associate of Hosni Mubarak’s.
“I swear to God that I will sacrifice my life to prevent any attempt
to bring back the old regime,” declared Muslim Brotherhood candidate
Mohammed Morsi in a blunt reference to Shafiq at a press conference
late Thursday night.
For the Brotherhood, the ruling was proof that elements of the
Mubarak regime still occupy positions of power within the judiciary.
Many Egyptians were already suspicious of the judiciary’s seemingly
reactionary tendencies, as Thursday’s decision came only days after a
criminal court acquitted members of the Mubarak regime on corruption
and murder charges. Mubarak’s two sons were also acquitted; the
deposed president was sentenced to life behind bars, not death as
Despite fears of election manipulation and fraud, the Brotherhood’s
Freedom and Justice Party called on its supporters Thursday night to
flock to the polls on Saturday and Sunday and “protect the revolution
of the Egyptian people.”
But the prospect of elections within 48 hours terrified many liberal
Egyptians, such as former IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei.
“Electing a president in the absence of constitution and parliament
is electing an ‘emperor’ with more powers than the deposed dictator.
A travesty,” he wrote on his Twitter page Thursday.
ElBaradei implored the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) to
postpone the elections until the public fathoms the new political
reality. He suggested appointing a temporary president and an
emergency government to draft a new constitution before allowing any
elections — parliamentary or presidential — to go forward.
Shafiq, the big winner in Thursday’s decision, appeared both self-
confident and magnanimous.
“Today’s decision will enable rapprochement between me and the
Brotherhood,” he told the Egyptian press. “I see nothing in my public
service that requires my marginalization.”
Shafiq also told establishment daily Al-Ahram that he was surprised
by the court ruling on the complete dissolution of parliament, and
that he was expecting that only part of the people’s assembly would
But for many, Shafiq — a former air force chief — is nothing but a
facade for Egypt’s omnipresent military establishment. In fact,
suspicion towards the military ran so high Thursday night,
particularly among the youth, that a sense of despair and
indifference began to emerge.
“I don’t believe it really matters whether Morsi wins or Shafiq
wins,” Emad Dafrawi, a young social activist from Cairo told the
Times of Israel. “The military council wants to keep its privileges
untouched with no monitoring of its economic activities.”
Hamed, an Egyptian studying in Germany, said the court’s decision was
simply a manifestation of the SCAF’s attempt to weaken the Muslim
Brotherhood candidate ahead of Saturday’s vote.
“Apart from the people, the strongest entity taking part in the game
is the SCAF,” Hamed told the Times of Israel. “They are sure to try
everything to make the elections happen and make their candidate win.
There are so many things occurring under the table that it is
difficult to know what will happen.”
Hamed bemoaned a new decision by the Egyptian Justice Minister
Wednesday, allowing military police to arrest civilians over a wide
range of suspected crimes until a new constitution is drafted.
A Facebook meme circulated by Egyptians Thursday expressed the
growing public sentiment, bolstered by the court ruling, that the
army is in Egypt to stay. The text read: “The military will return to
its barracks in June? Wrong! the military intends to bring its
barracks, its wife and its children and join us at the table.” (©
2012 THE TIMES OF ISRAEL 06/15/12)
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